One of my favourite places in the world is Banff national park, in Alberta. This is a town that is surrounded by the Rocky mountains and where one is not far away from some great hiking trails. Weever I get a chance to God there, I'm astounded by the natural beauty all around and the majestic awesomeness of those towering peaks. Being there you can truly see the finger prints of God in every corner of such wondrous beauty. It is the place where I feel closest to God, it's an inexplicable holy place to me. There is nothing like hiking these mountains. There's no distractions, no cell phones, no emails to answer, no appointments to be kept. Just your water bottle, walking stick, daypack and God.
There are many times when God takes us to a mountain, but being there may not be a great and joyous time. Most of us associate mountain to p experiences with reaching a closeness to God, just like Moses did; yet some times mountain top experiences may be for a different reason. Sometimes God takes us to his mountain not to share in a closeness, but rather to isolate us from the world so that we may be able to hear his voice. In the quiet loneliness of the mountain, God instructs and refreshes your soul. It is where God shows you grace.
Two men had contracting experiences atop a mountain. Both met with God, but the reason behind their ascensions where different. The first climbed up to receive instructions, laws and to intercede on behalf of the people he reluctantly led. A people that were so easily seduced by sin and taunted God's wrath almost daily. He had been groomed from birth to lead, he had all the skills, but he struggled with self doubt and rash, violent actions. This unbridled fervour led him to make a mistake and he had to flee into the wilderness to save his life. Yet it was in the wilderness near a mountain where he saw a miraculous sign and where God bestowed upon him the mantle of a leader and gave him the plan for the deliverance of a chosen and loved people.
The second man was already anointed by God with great power before he climbed his first mountain. It was on too of a mountain where He had his greatest success in ministry. He won a battle where the sheer power of God was displayed and proved to a wayward nation that the pagan gods they had been influenced to follow by a wicked queen, had no power compared to the one and only God. Because he had been used to expose the lies of the enemy his life was threatened, and in fear, he fled to another mountain where ind the midst of great loneliness and seeming defeat, he wanted to die. It ws in this mountain where God reminded him of his mission. Where God refreshed him and sent him back to complete the task he had been given. God even gave him some help in the form of an eventual successor who would go on to surpass him.
On one hand we have someone who learnt how to lead and inspite of his short comings. He learnt how to speak in a way to inspire people to keep moving, to keep trusting in God and to keep the promises of God at the forefront of their minds. On the mountain Moses saw God's glory and was sent. On the other hand we have a prophet who was worn out, an angry letter by an even angrier woman had shaken him to the core even though God's power and protection had not left him. On the mountain he was restored, quieted, fed, refocused and reminded he was not alone. With a simple "why are you here, Elijah?" God began the restorative process of his soul, first by reminding him of his purpose and secondly, he was given a plan of succession by which his burden would be dispersed.
Two different men and Two different mountain experiences. Which mountain experience do you identify with right now? Are you like Moses, meeting with God regularly to intercede for the people under you care? or are you facing adversity from the people you are trying your best to lead, but it seems like you just can't win, like Elijah? Dear reader, fellow worker, my brother or sister, we will all have to climb either mountain at one point or another in our ministry. But do not despair! The Lord ordains these experiences. When in doubt, or fear, or persecution there is not better place to go than up the mountain of God.
These mountains are not to be our permanent dwelling places, for the battle is fought down in the valleys of this world. God takes us to these mountains to give us hope, to let us survey the world around us from His vantage point so that we may see how far we have come from when we first chose to follow Him. Mountain times are for a time and for a reason, don't be like Peter who wanted to set up some tents on the mount of the transfiguration, when Jesus met with the two men mentioned above. When the time is right and God has given instruction or restored the heart, He will send you down the mountain again. We, as leaders, are no good to God if we choose to cloister our selves, He needs us to be mobile, quick on our feet, and living within our people.
One last mountain
Jesus had a habit of going up mountains to pray. When ever he could, according to scripture, He would get away to the wilderness, or to a mountain to pray and recharge. He was the fulfilment of the prophecies of all the prophets, of which Elijah is considered chief, and He is the completion of the Law given to Moses. I like to think that the reason he sought out these high places to pray, was to show his disciples that He was the promised one which the scriptures and the prophets said would come, climbing the mountain to meet with God, one greater than Moses and Elijah. Yet there was one last mountain that he had to climb.
Being so close to good friday, I am reminded Calvary, a mount outside of Jerusalem, where the greatest victory known to mankind took place. Bloodied, beaten beyond recognition, tired and on the verge of collapse, Jesus took step after painstaking step up this mountain dragging a cross. This time the mountain experience was one that everyone, spanning the ages, would see. What happened atop this mount (or hill) finally fulfilled the whole of scripture. The sacrifice was made, the penalty for sin was paid, the veil was torn asunder so that we humans would be free from condemnation. So that we would one day be able to see the face of God, to run into his arms and feel the warmth of His embrace. If it wasn't for what happened at Calvary, none of us would be allowed to climb the mountain of God.
Remember, dear reader, that when ever you are in the thick of battle in the trenches, when you think that your strength will give out and that you have nothing left to fight for, remember to look up at this mountain! See the cross at its pinnacle and remember that the Lord will take care of you, He will direct you, He will restore you. Climb this mountain and remember his promise: "...And I am with you ALWAYS, to the very end of the age"
may the Lord bless you all with a Happy Easter!!!