More Than One Way to Move a Mountain

Since before I wrote Walls and Weapons in October, we’ve been singing “Do It Again” from Elevation Worship at church. (The first line is about walls. It’s an obvious connection.) The bridge goes like this:

I’ve seen you move, you move the mountains, and I believe I’ll see you do it again.

Well, the walls I described back in that October post are still standing. The mountain that needs to move isn’t gone. As we sang this song again on Sunday, I mentally reminded the Lord that, while I absolutely believe He’ll “do it again,” we’re still waiting. Immediately, this phrase came to my mind:

There’s more than one way to move a mountain.

I stopped singing. My mouth may have hung open. The wheels in my brain started turning, and images began to cycle…images of the many ways mountains can be moved.

Erosion

07-15 trip to Cherokee (8)
Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee, NC (c) Carole Sparks  (My Grand Canyon pics are on film. Sorry!)

The Grand Canyon is the product of erosion. So are most cave systems and the smooth tops of the Appalachian Mountains. Slowly and steadily, wind and/or water wear away at soil, rock, and everything else, turning jagged edges smooth, wearing towers down to nubs. You can’t watch it happen, but you can clearly see evidence of it.

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Cumberland Caverns (c) Carole Sparks

Sometimes our problems very gradually dissipate as “springs of living water” (Revelation 7:17, also John 4:14) flow in and around us. The key is to keep the water flowing, that is, to stay close to Jesus. We’ve seen the smoothing of some rough edges on our mountain, making it a little easier to manage every day.

Equipment

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A long way down – from the cable car station atop Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. (c) Carole Sparks

I love heavy equipment! (How could I not have any photos?!?) A bunch of bulldozers and dump trucks can roll in and remove a mountain in a matter of weeks. It’s not pretty and may not be good for the environment (e.g. strip mining), but it’s possible.

We can move our spiritual mountains through the application of human resources, too.

  • Doctors and medicines
  • counselors
  • friends lending their services
  • charity organizations…

all help us tackle the mountains in our lives. After praying for God to move our particular mountain, He has guided us to some heavy equipment to tackle part of the job.

Environment

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In Tarangire, the river grows wider due to erosion and animal traffic on its banks. (c) Carole Sparks

The mountain’s environment: Beavers chop down trees to make dams that back up streams. Birds carry away twigs for nests and deposit seeds that become trees. Moles tunnel through the ground, loosening soil that the wind blows away. Men clear space for roads and fields. Many factors alter or remove small parts of the mountain.

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TVA dams turned mountains into hills and islands. (c) Carole Sparks

As our environment changes, our mountain changes. It wears down. It loosens up, making erosion easier. Some small things have changed, some small steps have been taken so that the mountain is looser. It’s a little easier to live here now, and it may come down more quickly in the future.

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Mt. Kilimanjaro is the snow-capped peak on the right. We were about 100 miles away. (c) Carole Sparks

The believer’s environment: It’s also possible to simply move away. Maybe the mountain doesn’t need to move as much as we need to move out of its vicinity. A change in our environment produces the same results as moving the mountain. Mount Kilimanjaro doesn’t look quite as impressive from one hundred miles away.

We’ve changed a few things around here (and stood firm on a few other things) to get a better perspective on our mountain. While we can’t move, we’ve learned to simply look in a different direction occasionally by getting away for a vacation or holiday.

Earthquake

Very rarely, the earth shakes and the mountain crumbles—gone in a matter of minutes. That’s entirely the hand of God. Earthquakes are dangerous for miles, the land often racked with instability and aftershocks. (Kinda thankful I don’t have any first-hand photos of earthquakes.)

When Jesus talked of moving
mountains, He was thinking
about motives, not methods.

It seems I was looking for the earthquake or some miraculous disappearing act—a heavenly sleight of hand—that would solve our situation without much work or patience on my part. Clearly, that’s not God’s only way to work.

When Jesus talked of moving mountains, He wasn’t worried about methods, just motives.

Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.  –Matthew 17:20

So I’m willing to wait and watch, knowing God has a purpose in the methods He’s using for us. Because God does move mountains, one way or another.

Or perhaps, one way and another.

God does move mountains—one way AND another. This #mountainmoving is #NotAboutMe, via @Carole_Sparks. (click to tweet)

Have you seen a mountain move in your life? Please encourage me by sharing a bit in the comments below. I really would LOVE to hear from you!

Random connection: Good fiction about moving actual mountains

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Why You Can—and Should—Take That Risk

You will never know the faithfulness of God without the fear of God.

This phrase came to my mind in response to a verse I know and love, one that has sustained me through tumultuous times in the past.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. -Isaiah 26:3 Continue reading

When Guilt Grounds Me

I can’t even count how many times this has happened. At some point in the day, I stand in the middle of the hallway trying to decide what to do next. I wrestle with competing priorities. Do I write or exercise? Because there’s not time for both. Do I wash clothes or cook dinner? Because both need to be done. Do I call a church friend who’s having troubles or knock on my unbelieving neighbor’s door? Because Jesus calls us to encouragement and evangelism. So I stand there in the hallway with a dumb look on my face. Whatever I choose, guilt will accompany me.

From where you’re sitting there, outside my life and brain, it probably seems straightforward (I’ve told myself the same thing a thousand times): Organize your life better so you can do both. If that solution works for you, I am incredibly happy for you. In my case, more organization or scheduling just makes my life feel even more crowded. Most days, I have a list, which helps me get started, but all the entries on it are important! And it feels weird to put, “Call best friend” on my list. What I need is a guilt-free decision-maker. If you invent one of those, I’ll be first in line to buy it.

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hot-air balloon inflating (c) Carole Sparks

There’s only one thing which helps me at all, and it takes incredible volumes of self-control. I ask the Holy Spirit to show me what God wants me to do in the next hour…or fifteen minutes (yes, even if it’s exercise or wash clothes) and then I try to let go of the rest. See, I think Satan latches onto us with all those things we didn’t do and loads those otherwise empty “loose ends” with brick-filled bags of guilt until we’re immobile, or at least ineffective. (We’ll come back to this.) That guilt weighs us down like sandbags on a hot-air balloon. The thing keeping me stuck there in the hallway is simple: I don’t want to feel guilty, and so the guilt is already strapping me to the ground.

I use the piles of dirty clothes
as an excuse not to obey.

I don’t think God is particularly concerned with how or when I do the laundry, except when I do laundry instead of obeying Him, when I use the piles of dirty clothes as an excuse not to call a friend or write or something seemingly more holy than laundry. (I say seemingly because I think our entire lives can be wrapped up in His glory, which is holy ground! Check Colossians 3:17 and 23.)

My responsibility is to trust
Him in the ordering of my days.

At the same time, He knows it must be done. So I also have to think He will create a time in my day or week when He releases me to wash all those dirty clothes. The pile may get bigger than I like, but time will open to do it. Even harder than household duties, God will block out spaces where obedience means I rest or spend time relaxing with a beloved friend. All without guilt. My responsibility is to trust Him in the ordering of my days, trust Him that the laundry will get done and the floors swept and the blog posts written.

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hot-air balloon takes off (c) Carole Sparks

You know that feeling of “this is where I need to be right now”? It’s when God affirms that you’ve been obedient, and somehow, in your heart, you know it. Why can’t we have that feeling most—or all—of the time? I think we can experience it a lot more often than we currently do.

When Satan immobilizes us or preoccupies us with guilt, we can’t be effective even when we are being obedient. In those times, we treat His Will like tasks to be accomplished. “Just lower your head and push through,” we think. I pondered this image the other day…

Life with my head down
     ploughing the ground,
No thought to look up
     No “Lord, fill my cup.”
Strain and pull
     cart never full...

Yeah, that’s all I have. I’m not much of a poet, but do you see how God isn’t getting any glory in that image? How it’s all about finishing but never being able to finish?

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hot-air balloon in flight (c) Carole Sparks

He picks one thing for
right now and I let the
rest fall to the ground…

I’ve got to hold my time and my days and my to-do list in open palms where He picks the one thing for right now and I let the rest fall to the ground until later—like cutting the mooring lines on a hot-air balloon. Then I can soar on the updrafts of His Will! Then I can be free to obey without distraction.

Now I’m walking away. I’m going to meet my friend for coffee because that’s what I understand to be God’s will for my afternoon. I am not going to worry or stress over this blog post or the laundry piles or the carpet cleaner sitting in the middle of my living room floor.

At least I’m going to try.

Let go of the guilt from your unfinished to-do list and fly on the updrafts of God’s will! (click to tweet)

For further reading: Tyranny of the Urgent. It’s a tiny booklet by Charles E. Hummel that examines how we live under the pressure of “right now.”

Does your to-do list taunt you? Do you feel weighted down by the guilt of everything you didn’t do today? How do you deal with it? How do you cut the guilt lines? Please let me know in the comments. I’m still looking for answers!

Things Not Said: Philip, part 1

After Pentecost and the establishment of the first church (Acts 2), it didn’t take long for conflict to arise in the church (not a big surprise for anyone who has ever been part of a church!).  To resolve the conflict, the disciples choose seven Greek-speaking believers “known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom” (Acts 6:3).  It was a humble position, just manning the food bank…nothing special. Among the seven, we find Philip, and his story is my favorite in the New Testament.  Take a look with me… Continue reading