Tag Archives: Mountain

mountain of contentment

From where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the author and perfecter of my faith.

I love sitting outside on a bench that faces the mountain that’s near to my house and having my quiet time. I sip my coffee, munch on a bagel or cereal, watch Finn pounce on all the plants in my yard and spend time with the Father.

Mountains have always held a special place in my heart, for a little background, click here

My view of the mountain from my house isn’t a clear-cut view. There are electrical lines that frame my view. I could focus on these and complain about them and ignore the perfectly wonderful view I have.

The Lord showed me today that it’s the same with life. I can let small things steal my attention from the bigger and more beautiful thing – the Lord.

These small things take away from appreciating and enjoying all of things God has blessed us with.

My neighbor’s garden is visible from my morning breakfast perch. I haven’t ever felt this way, but I could choose focus on what he has and not what I have been blessed with. He has beautiful purple flowers on a vine that is landscaped just right. This could, if I had inherited more of my grandmother and mother’s green thumb, distract me. It also could enhance my view, and it does. I’m grateful for it.

Don’t allow jealousy to give you tunnel vision.

There is a longan tree (longans are a Thai fruit that you peel) just outside my fence. Instead of looking at the whole picture, I could just admire the fruit trees and my neighbor’s yard and forget how they act as a beautiful frame for the mountain.

Spiritually, I could praise God’s creation yet neglect to praise Him.

Sometimes the clouds hide the view of the mountain. Does that mean the mountain is gone? Not at all. Just because we cant see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Sometimes we can’t see God as clearly as we do on the sunny days. He is still there, as firm and solid as before.

Mountains are a symbol of contentment. God gives contentment. As Oswald Chambers so eloquently put it, we must look up into His face and that is where contentment and joy comes from. (I’ve learned a great deal from Oswald – I wrote another post about a devotional he wrote that the Lord used in my life.)

Looking up to the mountain reminds me to look to God for contentment.

I pray you’ll look to God for contentment too.

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Yes, Virginia, there is a God

“Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see.”

As I sat on my balcony this morning, sipping my gingerbread coffee and sampling my scrambled eggs, I realized I couldn’t see the mountain that’s just a few miles from my apartment. The mountain, except for mornings like this, is always visible and is my landmark in Chiang Mai.

I woke up to mist, rain and clouds. The rain is what obscured the mountain from my perch. Do I doubt that the mountain is there, just because I can’t see it right now?

No.

This mountain has been a stalwart in my life. From when we first moved to Chiang Mai when I was a 10 year old who wore jumpers and side ponytails, to my 17-year-old self who wore Soffe shorts and Grace International School athletic gear and finally, to my 23-year-old self who wears wrinkly shirts and flip flops, the mountain has been a reminder of God’s majesty. I’ve learned a lot about the Lord from this mountain.

Virgina O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Sun, asking if Santa Claus existed. Her friends told her he didn’t exist. The only place he seemed to exist was in and on “Miracle on 34th Street.” Virginia had never seen Santa, so how was she to know he existed?

I’ve heard many people say, how do I know God is real? I have never seen him.

“VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see,” Francis Pharcellus Church, the editor of the New York Sun, wrote.

“They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge,” Church continued.

Skepticism has taken the place of a child-like faith.

I couldn’t see the mountain this morning. Yet, it is there. I’ve had mornings when I sit and gaze at the mountain, feeling so close to God. I’ve had great times spent in the Word gazing at the mountain. It’s easy to believe when everything is spelled out, when we are having a mountain-top experience.

When the rain comes, when life isn’t as clear and spelled out, it’s harder. But the rain is needed, just as the earth needs rain to grow and flourish, so also do we need rain.

Rain nourishes. It isn’t always pleasant. Times of growth in our life, where we are stretched and when hard lessons come, help us become more like our Creator. They are for our good. The mountain is still there in these times of growth, during rainy seasons. God is still there during hard times. He may feel farther away than He did when you were on the mountain top, but He is so close, He is always there, as a strength and support.

He’s proved this is all of our lives, if we are willing to be honest. We choose to ignore the mountains sometimes, or forget they are there. But they are there. You can’t pretend the Himalayas aren’t there. You may forget, but they’ve been there much longer than you have. Just as the mountains have always been in our world, since God created them, God has always been there. He wants to have a relationship with you.

“Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see,” Church wrote.

Isn’t that true though? The most real things in this world are things we cannot see.

“Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.”

Yes, Virginia, there is a God. He exists because He IS love, generosity and devotion. These qualities exist in our lives to give our lives its highest beauty and joy.

“Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”

God lives forever, ten times ten thousand years from now, God exists, and makes glad the hearts of children, men and women. Let’s remember that this Christmas. He is the reason for the season after all.

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It’s the Climb

View from my balcony

You know the song, “The Climb,” by Miley Cyrus? I’m not too keen on Miley as an artist or individual, but I can’t help but think about her song now that I am back in my new-old environment.

My last two years of high school we lived near the international school I went to and later graduated from. We had a great house. I had a room with a king size bed and a balcony that faced Doi Kham (a mountain). I loved sitting on the balcony and reading my Bible, praying and contemplating life and its intricacies. I had some great times with the Lord. It was a great time of solace. Those were the times that I felt most keenly the “Sacred Romance” John Eldredge writes about.

Now, I am back in Chiang Mai–my hometown. I’m here not as a high school student in pleated skirts and polos but as a recent college grad with a career. I’ve landed my dream job at 22. I’m not here for play like I was before. I have responsibilities. I am here by myself. I am going to be doing ministry as a single– not a family. I have an awesome, light-filled apartment in a bustling part of town that has several coffee shops and a plethora of eateries. It is very convenient. Where we lived before was kind of out in the boonies.

Guess what? I have a balcony. Actually, in the apartment there are a total of four. Yes. Three of the balconies face a mountain. I almost cried with joy when I first walked into the apartment. It’s more than a balcony–it’s communion with God. I’m reminded of His glory every time I look out. I am reminded of what He has done for me, the lessons I’ve learned and the victories He’s granted. I look out and see the city I love so much.

But this time, the mountain is Doi Suthep, which is a much taller mountain. How fitting that it it’s a bigger mountain. It fits my new role here. There’s more challenge now. With challenge though, there is adventure and we all know how much I love adventures. And adventure, as I’m learning, is the pursuit of a Sacred Romance with God.

So to get back to our teen phenom, several lines in her song, “The Climb” popped out at me.

“There’s always gonna be another mountain.” This has proven true. “I’m always going to want to make it move.” I don’t want to make my mountains move. Instead of looking at mountains as a challenge, look at them as an adventure–a mystery.

Valleys, in the Christian metaphor world, are usually synonymous with low times in life. They are associated with the times you are far from God. “Mountain top experiences” usually denote a time of closeness with God. Mountains can be fearful and make you sit in awe. God is a powerful God. It’s good to have a reverent fear of God. I think that is the beauty of mountains. They make me think of Him and how powerful and awesome He is.

So I don’t want to make my mountains move. I know that mountains can also be an obstacle–in that you have to get around or over them to see the life/future on the other side. It doesn’t really bother me what’s on the other side of Doi Kham and Doi Suthep. As Miley said, “It’s the climb.” It’s not what’s on the other side. It’s the lessons we learn on our climb up the mountain. It’s the intimacy with God that comes from the challenge presented.

It’s the adventure we all crave.

Don’t look at mountains in your life and be dismayed and discouraged. Look at them as a chance to find intimacy, solace and learn lessons in your walk with Christ. It’s about running the race in a manner worthy of winning the prize. The mountains in our lives are there for a reason and a season. Allow God to use them to grow you and remind you how great His love is for you.

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