‘For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.’ Habakkuk 2:14
Mountains are special places.
I suppose I had better qualify that statement for those of you who are not natural hill or mountain lovers. Even looked at from a purely geological viewpoint we owe a lot to the mountains and hills on our planet. Many are volcanic in origin and during periods of activity in the past (and present) have brought essential nutrients to the surface from deep within the earth. Erosion of their surface has produced fertile soil that provides the means for farmers to grow crops. The physical barrier that a mountain range creates affects our weather, bringing much needed rain and the source of many of our great rivers, which themselves bring the means of life and sustenance to communities spread often hundreds of miles from high ground.
The thin and cleaner air found on mountains has meant that nearly all of the larger astronomical telescopes have been placed there, giving us increased understanding of the vastness and beauty of our universe.
Climb those hills and mountains if you are physically able to do so. Stand on the top and look around you; touch the rocks, feel the cool air on your cheeks, watch that first trickle of water grow as it meets others and begins to cascade down into the valleys below. Think about the incredible forces at work in the earth that could throw up such a massive structure. Consider a God who not only created but continues to create. Appreciate the vastness and beauty of the world in which you live from a new and higher perspective – without the confusion of people, noise, schedules and demands upon your time.
In the Bible there are numerous examples of mountains being at the centre of the relationship between God and His people. Moses went up on Sinai
‘The LORD said to Moses, Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and commands I have written for their instruction.’ Exodus 24:12
Abraham and Isaac were on a mountain in Moriah. Noah, after his famous voyage found safe anchor on a mountain. Jesus chose high ground (if not a mountain) to give his famous sermon.
We talk of ‘mountain top’ experiences, a reference no doubt to Matthew 17 when Jesus took some of his disciples mountain climbing.
‘Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. 4 Peter said to Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters— one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah. 5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him! 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground, terrified.’
How many of us, I wonder have had similar experiences; maybe not on high places but simply being there in the presence of God in a new and life transforming place. Of course, mountain climbing, whether physical or spiritual makes certain demands of us. We need to carry with us only the bare essentials, freeing ourselves of anything that might hold us back or weigh us down. We need to lighten our load.
‘…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.’ Hebrews 12:1
We cannot climb to the higher ground to be in the presence of God with all the attachments and burdens that we carry around on our shoulders, it is not going to happen. But we should all seek out that mountain or hill and make the journey, suitably attired of course.