I received this cartoon in an email the other day and it meant so much to me. We don't have a lot of money for Christmas gifts this year, and all that I have bought is contained in 2 Walmart and 2 Target bags in the guest bedroom. Fortunately, we have family (my parents) who have been willing to pitch in and be "Santa" for the kids...they'll never know the difference. I have been overwhelmed with the peace that comes when lacking the "Christmas Crazies." I have had more time to focus on Jesus, and less worry about the commercialism of the holiday. I find myself searching for creative, inexpensive ways to bless others...like chocolate covered spoons for dipping in coffee and homemade goodies for neighbors/ needy. Anyway, the cartoon made me smile so I thought I'd pass it on you. Enjoy! God bless you and Merry Christmas.
Mountains are my thing.
As a matter of fact, some of my most meaningful quiet times have come in the mountains…on the side of a cliff in Utah, by a rushing river in West Virginia, and so many wonderful times in the Collegiate Peaks of Colorado. I have never experienced the beauty of the Lord so richly as I did sitting on top of Bob's Rock on Sunday afternoons watching the sun sink low behind a landscape of rugged peaks. I often wonder if my life would be filled with just a little more joy if I could step out on my balcony every morning (of my log cabin, of course) and smell the fresh mountain air as I view God’s majestic mountains before me.
If you were to open my Bible to Psalm 121, you would see RMH 1999 written beside the title. That is where it all began for me. Rocky Mountain High was an outdoor leadership program where I first encountered the Rocky Mountains, and my future husband. I vomited all over him as I suffered through Acute Mountain Sickness and one of the most humbling experiences of my life. My passion for the mountains and my realization of the need for the Lord’s help in my life began there. It’s a good thing I started to learn it then…cause I am no where near as strong and confident today as I was back then!
Psalm 121, verses 1-2 say, “I lift up my eyes to the hills- where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
As I was reviewing this verse the other day, I realized something for the first time. If the writer of this psalm was lifting his eyes UP to the hills – he was NOT standing on top of a mountain when he wrote it. Looking further into the history of the psalm, I found that travelers would sing this psalm, probably as the traveled to Jerusalem…looking up at Mount Zion. They would sing out loud the attributes of the God they knew as they endured a gruesome journey. They confessed out loud that God was their helper, that He would not let their foot slip and that He would not slumber during their journey. They knew in their hearts that he would protect them despite the perils of this trip.
Now, my family is facing a season of “trials” right now and, as we have done so I have learned something very interesting about myself. While most people run to the Lord in times of trouble, and draw a little further away when times are good…I am the opposite. When things are at peace in my life, I enjoy great fellowship with the Lord. I guess I feel his favor and love and want to be close to him because I know he "likes me." But when times get tough…I start running. After pondering this for as long as a mom of a 2 and 3 year old can…I think I might know why.
I am pretty certain that we are being disciplined right now for some poor decisions made over the last 2 years. I feel like God is disappointed in me, and the details of daily life seem like they would be annoying to him. I feel like God has put me in a spiritual time out. No talking, just sit there and think about what you have done wrong (that's what I tell my 3 year old when I put her in time-out). But how do I treat my own children when putting them in time out? I follow it up with a period of great love and concern. Lots of cuddling and talking and making sure that they know I love them dearly. Surely, if I know how to give my children good gifts, my Father in heaven is able to do so much more for me!
Psalm 121, verses 7-8 say “the Lord will keep you from all harm – He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forever more.” These verses have always instilled a mental picture of God looking down from on high, watching tons of people go back and forth…kind of like an aerial view of New York City streets. But I realize now that it is so much more than that. Matthew 10: 30-31 says. “And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth many sparrows.” If God cares enough about me to number the MANY hairs on my head (and I have A LOT of hair), he must also care about the daily details of my life. Yes, there is the huge looming darkness of possible foreclosure on our home, but what about the fact that my dear son, plagued with so many health concerns already, may now need hearing aids and I can’t even bring myself to tell his daddy because it is one more thing about his son that will break his heart. Or the fact that David is in tryouts right now for a job that he so desperately wants…and needs! Or how about my own job situation...being 7 and 1/2 months pregnant and needing to return to nursing ASAP to help pay the mortgage. We spent several hundred dollars updating my certifications and I have not gotten one call-back regarding my resume. Do I dare ask for God’s help with these things during a time of discipline? Am I being like my 3 year old who asks for ice cream after she has just received a spanking?
1 Corinthians 13 is the quintessential chapter regarding love. Many times I have heard my name inserted in the verses to encourage me to love others the way God intended. Leah is patient, Leah is kind…but last night I read something profound. If God is love, as noted in 1 John 4:13 , then it is only logical to assume that God’s love towards me is patient, God’s love towards me is kind, God’s love towards me does not take into account a wrong suffered, God’s love towards me bears all things, God’s love towards me endures all things. And God’s love towards me will never fail. I can never out knuckle-head God’s love for me. So yes, he MUST care about the details. Everyday and in every way.
And while I cannot run away to the mountains right now (as tempting as it is), I can look up to mountains around me and dream of all the wonderful adventure God has planned for me. I can look up to the women who represent mountains of faith in my life, women like Violet, Caroline, Bonnie, and Laurie…and know that they have endured valleys and I will endure too. And I can be thankful for this time in the valley, because only then can I truly lift my eyes up to the mountains and praise the God I know for the work He is doing in my life.