I love the beach! I do! My home has a beach theme – in every room. I live for salty air, and I long for walks along an isolated coastline. I dream in “ocean-living-color.” I remember the sounds of the surf in the night watches and am soothed to sleep by the sounds of the waves as they roll endlessly upon the shore. Yes, I love the beach, but I also love the mountains. I long for a view of the valleys as they spread themselves out before me for miles of beauty. I love the shadows of the clouds as certain areas of the mountain are covered, and others are exposed to the sunshine. I inhale the freshness of the air just after a rainstorm has washed the treetops and is yet dripping from the leaves. I love the breeze as it blows my hair. Yes, I love the mountains. When I feel alone or abandoned, these are the places that feed my soul.
Never Alone, Never Abandoned
I had not thought much of the mountains until recently when on our way back to Ridgecrest we stopped over with friends in Pikeville, Tennessee. We arrived in their town after dark, unaware of the surrounding mountains until the next morning. As we began to drive across the valley, I realized the sun was peeking over the ridges and throwing shadows down the mountain-side as a new day arrived. I remembered the verse, “As the mountains are round about Jerusalem so the Lord is round about his people from henceforth even forever” (Psalm 125:2).
How good to know that whether I go down to the sea, or climb to the heights of the mountains, God is with me. “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:38-39).
Sheldon and I have spent the last month as volunteers in Black Mountain, North Carolina, and will continue for almost another month. On our days off we explore the beauty of the surrounding mountains.
The mountains are glorious because of the contrast between the peaks and the valleys. I think often of the phrases we use to describe such contrasts, and of the immediate mental response, I want to have.
The valley of despair – “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my cry come unto Thee. Hide not Thy face from me in the day I am in trouble; incline thine ear unto me: in the day when I call, answer me speedily” (Psalm 102:1-2).
The valley of the shadow of death – “Thou art my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Thy Word” (Psalm 119:114).
Mountain out of a molehill – “My soul, wait thee only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defense; I shall not be moved…trust in him at all times,…pour out your heart before Him, God is a refuge for us” (Psalm 62:5-8).
We’ve got a mountain to climb – “Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord” (Psalm 31:24).
Insurmountable mountain – “How long…how long…how long…how long”, David asks, “Consider and hear me, O Lord, my God: lighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;…But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. I will sing unto the Lord because He hath dealt bountifully with me” (Psalm 13:1-6).
He’s got snow on the mountain – “Let my mouth be filled with thy praise and with honor all the day. Cast me not off in time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth…But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more…I will go in the strength of the Lord God…O God thou hast taught me from my youth…now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not until I have showed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to everyone that is to come” (Psalm 71:1-24).
We’ve got to move a mountain – “Praise ye the Lord: for it is good to sing praises unto our God…he healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names. Great is the Lord, and of great power his understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:1,3,4-5).
David spent a lot of time in the mountains and the valleys as a shepherd. There were times when he felt overwhelmed, alone, chased by the enemy, discouraged, and despondent. He writes about those times in the book of Psalms. As insightful as those writings, I want to remember his overcoming those feelings by the power of God working within him.
As I journey through life I desire to capture more of those words of triumph so that I too may walk along the mountaintops in victory about the God of my salvation being the source of my strength and confidence.
If I have those moments where I am feeling alone, separated from God’s love, or just feeling “blue” – my “go-to” verses have always been from the chapter of Psalm 139. “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” There follows a long list of things that God wants to say to me to assure me of his love, presence, and protection. I am never alone, never abandoned. “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them!” (Psalm 139:17)
Next time you are having “one of those days“, remember, there is no valley too low, no mountain too high, that God’s love cannot reach. We are never alone, never abandoned.
Do you have a mountain standing in your path, or are you having a mountain-top experience today? I’d love to hear from you about some of the scriptures that have ministered to your heart.