Note: Due to my current book deadline, I am only able to post my weekly blog once monthly during July, August, and September. Thanks for staying tuned…
There’s Help in the Mountains!
by Lucinda Secrest McDowell
I raise my eyes towards the mountains. Where will my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121.1-2
I was not prepared for the awesome splendor of the Grand Teton Mountains.
The pictures on calendars, postcards and paintings paled in comparison to the real deal. Standing in their presence I was totally overwhelmed with the creativity of the “Maker of heaven and earth.”
Sometimes words are inadequate to describe God’s creation. But as I “raised my eyes towards the mountains” a few came to mind: majestic, formidable, untamable, stately, beautiful, towering, grandeur, unwavering, foundational, life-giving, mammoth and splendid.
As a child I first fell in love with mountains by spending my summers in the Blue Ridge – now forever known to me as “God’s Country.” But since then I have been privileged to backpack on the Appalachian Trail, rappel in the Adirondacks, ride cable cars up the Swiss Alps, trek through the Scottish Highlands and even enjoy a bit of Rocky Mountain High (I call it ‘altitude sickness’) while speaking in Colorado.
This summer in Grand Teton National Park I was reminded of John Muir’s words, speaking of National Parks back in 1901:
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”
Or, to paraphrase the psalmst: “Look to the mountains and receive help from the Lord, their Creator.” The mountains draw our eyes skyward towards the One who is all powerful. “You establish the mountains by Your strength; You are dressed in raw power.” (Psalm 65.6 ) As the soft, white clouds rest on top of the rocky crags and peaks I am reminded of their Maker’s dual character so often contrasted in gentleness and power, mercy and judgment, humanity and divinity.
Today’s familiar words from the psalmist remind us that although we often turn to nature for inspiration and help, it the nature’s creator – God – who provides the help we need.
One outdoorsman captured this variance well: “The wilderness often mirrors so much of what happens inside a man – tough slopes, rough waters, and fierce mountain winds symbolize hard and painful life passages, while clear skies at a peak’s summit, smooth green rivers, and a warm campfire at night symbolize the opposite. The wild is not only a place for physical and emotional renewal. It is one of God’s chosen instruments for coming to grips with what has damaged our souls, so that our spirits can be revitalized and the whole world made new. Whether by prayer and repentance, or by praise and thankfulness.” (Murray Pura in “Majestic and Wild”)
When David was in distress, he cried out to the God who dwells in His holy mountain. “Send your light and truth—those will guide me! Let them bring me to your holy mountain, to your dwelling place.” (Psalm 43.3 CEB)
Whether or not you can see a majestic mountain today, you are only one cry away from God’s dwelling place.