Something about the mountains my soul needs regularly and loves always. There’s just something about gaining altitude, heading up!
“I will lift up my eyes to the hills,” writes the psalmist as he beautifully affirms that all of his “help comes from the Lord” (Psalm 121).
Reading the Gospels, I feel some sweet altitudinal affirmation when I read about Jesus “going up on the mountainside” to pray. Of course, we can pray and receive strength from our Father at any and all altitudes. But “up” seems a particularly good direction to go for the strength needed to deal with life back “down there.”
It’s no accident that it was up on a “high mountain” that Jesus was “transfigured” before the wide eyes of Peter, James, and John as that clear, crisp mountain air blazed with God’s glory.
What’s really needed, of course, is for us to ask God to help us live with our eyes open. But life just seems to run a lot better when our eyes are pointed in an upward direction.
Even in the muck and the mire of a sin-sick and fallen world, if we can find the strength to look up in the midst of the darkness, we see God’s stars, and their silvery light spells hope.
When our souls are oppressed by the weight of 24-hour news, much of it bad (and at least 23 hours more than we need), if we’ll just wash our hearts out with beautiful music, we’ll find that music can be God’s blessing to lift us up, if only for a few moments, to a much higher, more beautiful place.
When we’re disappointed and hurt by human failures—not least, our own—and we’re feeling bent over under the accumulated weight of the weakness that has appalled us yet again, often that’s exactly when God’s Spirit can use our bending to be the first step toward our bowing. Then in worship our eyes are lifted up to the sinless One dying to carry all of our sins—past, present, and future—away from us forever.
To accept that sacrifice and live in the light of that truth is blessing and uplift indeed, in the highlands, the lowlands, or the plains.
But I find myself especially “lifted up” and thankful to have opened my eyes in the mountains on this particular morning, the start of almost a week in the hills. And it’s easy for me to echo the words of John Muir: “Oh, these vast, calm, measureless mountain days in whose light everything seems equally divine, opening a thousand windows to show us God.”
Yes, the mountain peaks seem to point up to God like the spires of a cathedral.
The majesty of the mountains reminds us of the majesty of God.
The seemingly timeless face of a mountain reminds us of the timeless permanence of God.
The enormity of the mountain reminds us of the vastness of God.
The awesome power of the mountain reminds us of the unshakeable strength of God.
Yes, indeed, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills.”
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Copyright 2017 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.