Sunday, September 10, 2006

Ordinary Time Mountains

The "Ordinary Time" devotional book, written by the members of the RevGals webring, has been a blessing. A new entry is posted each day online. Check it out by clicking on the sidebar link. A while back I mentioned mountains in a post and I said I'd post more about mountains later. Here is Saturday's (yesterday's) entry. This little devotional that I wrote several months ago seems very fitting for my life today. Perhaps it will be for you as well.

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be moved, but abides for ever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the Lord surrounds his people,
from this time on and for evermore.
For the sceptre of wickedness shall not rest
on the land allotted to the righteous,
so that the righteous may not stretch out
their hands to do wrong.
Do good, O Lord, to those who are good,
and to those who are upright in their hearts.
But those who turn aside to their own crooked ways
the Lord will lead away with evildoers.
Peace be upon Israel!
Psalm 125 (RSV)

In today's reading, the psalmist uses a mountain as a metaphor for those who trust in the Lord. He goes on in the next verse to describe the Lord in a similar way--a range of mountains surrounding the city of Jerusalem.

I presently live in the upper midwest of the United States. It is rather flat in this part of the country. People here don't seem to understnd mountains.

Not long after arriving at our first church, my husband and I were searching for the home of one of our parishoners. The penciled map we had been given seemed simple enough, and in a phone conversation we had been directed to drive down a certain country road until we came to a "series of hills." Just past the hills, which we were assured we could not miss, we would see their farmhouse on the left side of the road.

We drove for miles. We watched for hills. We grew puzzled, and we backtracked, wondering if we had missed a turn somewhere. No, we were on the right road. A trip that should have taken minutes stretched into an hour. We grew increasingly frustrated as we searched the horizon for hills that never materialized. Then, on our third trip over the same road, I realized that our car was moving over some bumps in the road. Small bumps. A series of small bumps. "This is it!" I yelled. "Turn left!" Sure enough, there was a familar figure in the yard as we pulled onto a dirt road and then down a long driveway. "Did ya have any trouble findin' us?" "Oh no," my husband said with a grin in my direction. "We just watched for the hills."

Bumps in the road were hills. And in this part of the country, people sometimes say "mountains" to describe what we would call "hills."

I love my adopted home, a state with rolling hillsides, green fields, red barns and black and white Holstein cattle. It is lovely country. But it lacks mountains.

Sometimes I long for the mountains that surrounded my childhood home. I could look down the street and see the foothills of California's Sierra Madre mountains. We lived in a large valley surrounded by purple mountain ranges. The majestic Rockies were in driving disance. My happiest days were spent in the mountains, driving up, up, up on winding roads that made us catch our breath as we looked over steep drops with only small guardrails for protection. The car chugged as the elevation got steeper, but my two sisters and I bounced with excitment in the back seat, sniffing the air for the first whiff of the the wonderful mountain pines. That scent is one of my favorite things. As the distant purple mountains became close-up brown and green and grey, I felt happy and secure. The air was cleaner, the sunshine was brighter, the rocks were bigger. Streams rushed in hidden canyons and burbled over stones. Birds sang in the high treetops. My little-girl heart was always glad in the mountains, always at peace.

Not much was secure in my life back then. Life seemed like sand beneath my feet. But the mountains--ah, there was something so strong, so unchanging, so long-lasting, so eternal about my beloved mountains. Year after year, they never changed. They were always present, always beautiful, always surrounding us with their great arms.

How like God! I love this metaphor for the Almighty. Strong, majestic, beautiful, unmovable, protecting, towering, peaceful, and full of delights.

But me? "Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides for ever." How can this be? I am weak, flawed, small, insignificant. There must be something I cannot see. I love the Lord, so I am like Mt. Zion, says the singer of Psalms.

What glory! We who love God can be called a mountain--strong, beautiful and eternal. Created us with something of the divine image, we are, somehow, like God.

Does life seems insecure, changing, and unstable? Are you longing for peace, for delight, for strength? Look to the Lord, the eternal one whose love surrounds you like a mountain range of protection. Draw from that security, and realize anew that you are capable and beautiful and amazing--made in the image of God!

Prayer: God who is like mountains, surround us with your protection, your peace and your awesome and beautiful power this day. Reveal hidden joys as we draw closer to you. Give us the strength that comes only from loving you. Grant that we may stand strong and face what comes with courage and endurance, knowing that we, like you, are eternal. Amen



Andrew McAllister said...

My wife and I spent a couple of years in Saskatchewan when we were first married. We always chuckled at the dread we encountered when any of the prairie folk thought about living anywhere with hills. "You couldn't see very far," they would say. Uhh, did you ever think how far you could see from the TOP of a hill? :o)

To Love, Honor and Dismay

Unknown said...

Hills uh, the hills there sound like the hill I grew up around in Florida. But what a lovely post!