I live in full sight of Highland Mountain. Just one of the many in the Chugach range, it sits at 3360 feet according to the internet. While not a particularly tall as mountains go, nevertheless the Alaskan sun can barely peek over it in winter. To me, it looks primitive and wild, like the old black and white pictures of Alaska that I used to look at as a child.
Squat and rugged, Highland Mountain, as minor as it is in the realm of mountains, seems immovable to me. And yet it has been moved several thousand times in the last couple of months. Each aftershock shimmies up the mountain, rearranging rocky outcrops and uprooting trees. New cliffs have been carved out along some of the highest mountain passes.
But I am not in the business of moving mountains. I am not even sure I will ever climb this mountain. No roads go all the way up. Above the tree line, the white peaks blend in with the winter white sky. What would be the point? And yet, every day my husband trudges off to his work, leaving me, the mountain, and my computer to figure ourselves out.
God is in the business of moving mountains. Apparently, He does it with mustard seeds. And this mountain that I live under seems like the visual representation of all the mountains in my life. The seemingly immovable mountains in my life are no different than anyone else’s. And He has let me know that His instructions are for us to use the seed of faith that we have to move those mountains. And He gives us His name to do it.
And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove, and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Matthew 17:20
The thing about mountains, though, is they have astonishingly broad bases. The absolute lunacy of attempting to move one strikes me every time I look at one. I have argued with the mountains in my life as well and that has gone as well as expected.
Joyce Meyer has caught some flack recently for admitting that she got the mysterious faith/miracle quotient wrong. That if a mountain like cancer doesn’t move, it isn’t an automatic disqualification of your mustard seed. The many Christians who pounced on her afterward made me ashamed to be one for a moment. But the Bible sends conflicting messages on this point, doesn’t it? Ask and you shall receive versus in this world you will have tribulation.
So what are my mountain moving choices? Here is a short list of the various strategies I have employed to make the impossible, possible.
1: Speaking to my mountains.
My mountains have extensive knowledge of scripture at this point. They have heard them all.
2: Pretending my mountains aren’t there.
Ignoring my mountains does not seem to hurt their feelings at all.
3: Fasting for the annihilation of those rugged peaks.
I really can’t say if they have noticed this self-deprivation or not.
4: Begging God to give those mountains a forceful shove.
After all, He could do it, right?
5: Revving up the old faith machine.
My mountains are literally pitted with mustard seeds.
And yet, when I look at the road behind me, the terrain looks different. Mountains that used to tower over me no longer loom. I never imagined that I could be free enough to write a blog in which I regularly confess my time as a victim of narcissistic abuse. Few such blogs exist. While many deal with abuse, very few can be as open as I am about it. Why? Because they are still afraid or their abuser is a mountain that has not been moved.
I keep a list of prayers that God has directly answered. I look at them sometimes to remind myself that some mountains don’t move so much as fade. Others erode over time. Some of my mountains weren’t mountains at all.
When you are lying prostrate from fear, everything looks like a mountain.
I think that is how most mountains are moved. We simply outgrow them. Remember the middle school mountain of social acceptance? Is it now the adult-sized mountain of keeping up with the Jones’s or have you outgrown that one? Remember the mountain of early marriage? Is it still there or have you both outgrown it?
In the end, I don’t think that our lives are really about moving mountains as much as they are about outgrowing them. Cancer, debt, loss, even war interrupt our lives. The earthquakes of life throw up new mountains constantly. And honestly, nothing gets in your way like a big mountain.
But in our spirits, we are the keepers of God’s light. Mountains stand for millennia, but we will outlast even the oldest range. Our lives may be lived camped at the bottom of a mountain that never moves, but the story of our journey does not need to be about that towering rock. What I mean is this: the circumstances of our lives do not have to be what defines them.
Some days I have my mustard seed and some days, I find that I have dropped it. But no matter the disposition of my faith, I know where to find my unchanging source. The answer isn’t in employing correct doctrine when praying. After all, that differs from believer to believer. The answer isn’t in a formula, though I confess that I use Stormie O’Martian’s prayers as a diving board. The answer is that the life we live is Christ in us.
When we turn toward that light that burns in us, feeding the flame of our spirit, our problems stop being the truth with a capital T. Our primary goal in life is not to do the things, but to be in Him. This fight precedes every other fight, always. I have memorized my mountains, I admit. But when I stop and redirect my gaze to the one who levels mountains and makes the crooked paths straight, I have the strength to take another step and another step.
Enough steps and even the biggest mountain gets left behind.