Monday, November 7, 2011

The Wrong Mountain

The women of El Callejon sing a song which talks about having faith like a mustard seed and moving mountains.  This morning I read those same words in Matthew 17.  After my devotions I went out for a run.  As I ran, I looked up at the mountains surrounding Jarabacoa and thought about that song and those verses.
I remember being young and being taught that if I had faith, even small faith, but truly believed, nothing would be impossible, even moving an actual mountain.  So, I decided to give it a try.  (I hope I’m not the only little kid who ever tried this!)
I concentrated really hard, believed with all my heart and… nothing.  The Rocky Mountains stayed put.  What had happened?  Was it that I just didn’t have enough faith? 
Since that first attempt, I’ve had many others (not with real mountains, but you know what I mean!).  I have had faith, I have had a mountain in view, I have prayed and pleaded that God would move it, and… nothing. 
Is it my fault?  Is it because I lack sufficient faith?  I think many of us wrestle with this question.  A mother wonders if her child is not getting better because her faith is too small.  A husband questions whether he is praying hard enough to salvage his crumbling marriage.  A teenager thinks she doesn’t believe enough get into the college she wants.
I have no doubt that each of you could give examples of your heartfelt prayers, when you believed, and yet a problem/situation/mountain stayed firmly put.  Why does this happen? 
Like you, I’ve struggled with my own mountains, I’ve struggled with wondering if I’m to blame.  And that brings me back to my run this morning.
The beauty of the lush green hills gave my soul a lift, as they always do, not just here, but in other places I’ve lived.  It suddenly occurred to me that these Dominican mountains look a lot like the ones in Antigua, Guatemala, and a lot like the Blue Ridge back home.  If I didn’t know where I was, I might think I was in another part of the world entirely. 
I started to think about the mountains in my life.  What if I’m looking at them, thinking they are what is hindering me, but in reality, they are not actually the trouble?  What if, instead, I am faithfully, fervently praying for the wrong mountain to move?
For example, I’ve been praying that God remove my car problems, ensuring I have a reliable car which always gets me where I need to go.  But, what if the actual mountain needing to be moved is my need to be in control and self-sufficient? 
I’ve been praying that God would remove the language barrier ahora mismo (right now).  But, what if the true mountain is my pride, keeping me from humbling myself, asking the women, teens and girls for their help in understanding what they are saying?
I’ve been praying that God would move me quickly and efficiently through the Transition Bridge, not allowing me to stumble at all.  BUT, what if the mountain that needs to go is my reluctance to allow myself to be stripped away of all my own strength, and then be surrounded, submerged, buoyed up, sustained by His love and power?
Perhaps by lovingly refusing to move the 'wrong' mountains I want moved, God is, in fact, helping strengthen me for my 'right' mountains.  Perhaps by not removing what I see as a problem, God is inviting me to see things from His perspective.  From the perspective which said that the mountain of suffering, pain and death would not be removed from His Son. 
Oh, Father, I have to confess that right now I don’t like these mountains looming up in front of me.  If I’m honest, everything in me wants You to move them out of my way, whether they are the wrong mountains or not. 
Teach me to look beyond the obvious peaks to the true mountains which keep me from living for You.  Teach me to see Your glory in the midst of the struggles, in the midst of the mountains.    

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