Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Climbing Mountains

But if you have faith as small as mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move.' 

This week, we've been looking at the idea of moving mountains. But I have said several times, and promised to say more, that not all mountains are meant to be moved. These mountains that are not meant to be moved invite us to one of two places: the top of the mountain or the foot of it.

Today, we're going to talk about the top.

Mountains are one of the rich elements of God's story. They appear frequently throughout His Word, in various ways and with various meanings. What's weird, though, is that with all of these mountains erupting in God's story, not one of them is moved. Not one. Jesus tells us that faith can move mountains, but in this entire 66-book compilation of stories of faith, not one mountain is moved.

Many, however, are climbed.

Abraham climbed a mountain. God called him to the mountain with his promised son, Isaac. If ever there was a time to move a mountain, this was it. Abraham knew exactly what God intended to happen on this mountain - there would be a sacrifice. God said that sacrifice would be Isaac. Abraham could have done what most of us do, if only he'd known the words of Jesus that would be to come. He could have bowed his head, cried loudly, and prayed using every name of God and Jesus that he could come up with, begging God to move that mountain. Begging God to change His mind. Begging God to make the mountain tremble so that Abraham could stop trembling.

But if he had, he'd have never found the ram in the bushes. He'd have never known what it's like to trust God only to discover that you really can trust God. He'd never have understood how God tangles things together for good. He'd never have known that at the same time Abraham was climbing that mountain with his son, God was coming up the other side of it with a real offering - an offering that God Himself would give to Abraham so that Abraham could make that offering to God. Think of everything Abraham would have missed if he'd made that mountain move rather than climbed it.

Moses climbed a mountain. Moses climbed a lot of mountains, and some of them, he climbed more than once. Always, he found the presence of God there. Not some mere good feeling or super-spiritual sensation, but the actual presence of God. A presence so real that God could write on two tablets of stone and hand them to Moses, words of life in God's very own handwriting. The smoke, the fire of God's presence covered the mountain, and Moses was right in the thick of it. 

In fact, the last thing that Moses did in his entire life was climb a mountain. From that vantage point, he looked out over all the territory that God has promised Israel; he got his first, and last, look at the Promised Land. He knew, in just that moment, that all the things God had put him through, all the things God had promised, were real. They were worth it. He could have spent less of his life on mountains. He could have prayed them all away. But think of all he'd have missed if he had - the presence of God and the glimpse of the promise. 

I'd climb a mountain for that.

Elijah met the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel - another mountain. And when Elijah showed up, so did God. Imagine if Elijah hadn't climbed that mountain. Imagine if he'd instead made the mountain move. Imagine if 250 prophets of Baal showed up to declare their god's glory and no one showed up to declare the Lord's. It doesn't matter any more whether Baal shows up or not; he's still got more credibility than the God who couldn't get even one prophet to climb a mountain for Him.

So the Bible is full of mountains that must be climbed, mountains where amazing things happen when the people of God dare to climb them. Every time, every single time, that a man climbs a mountain, the presence of the Lord meets him there. In some form, in some fashion, God awaits on the mountain. 

This is why we can't be so quick to say that all of the mountains in our lives are meant to be moved. Imagine what we'd miss if we spent our whole lives moving these mountains. Some of these mountains are meant to move us. To the top of them. To the presence of the Lord Himself. 

Yes, faith can move mountains. But from what we see in God's Word, it also climbs them. 

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