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Through the Mountains

Human beings are creatures of connection; it is in our nature. Whether we recognize it or not, we all long to relate to one another in order to assure ourselves that we are okay. What we are feeling is okay, and the feelings deep within us are normal. We all long to look at someone who went through similar trials and see their resilience, because this resilience gives us hope.

But life is messy, and sometimes there isn’t someone who can relate. We are each uniquely crafted and therefore, we have uniquely crafted hardships. No one can understand the family you grew up in and how that determines how you receive love.  No one can understand the relationship that forced you to build a wall around your heart, not ever letting those feelings and longings escape again.

Lately I have been feeling like no one understands. I look around and see people having the time of their lives, not wanting this season of their life to end. I look around and think there is something wrong with me because of the turmoil in my heart, the turmoil that no one else seems to have. This empty place filled with hardship becomes a cage, a cage that people look into with sympathy. They speak encouraging words through the bars, but no one ever comes in, simply because they can’t comprehend how. The lock is too complicated, or maybe I am just too complicated…

Traveling has given me the joy of gazing upon beautiful landscapes. Mountains, oceans, rivers, caves, and rolling hills pass by my bus window and I sit in awe of their jagged beauty. I see the valleys, peaks, cutting edges, and steep paths as a whole, but I don’t think about the danger of the steep path itself. I don’t think about the darkness of the valley. I don’t think about the bone chilling temperature of the peak that can freeze any warm body.

I don’t think about the cost of true beauty.

Friends, I think mountains tell our stories. I think each of us are compiled of winding streams, jagged rocks, dark valleys, but also vast green fields, and soaring peaks that offer breath-taking views. Each of us go through this life and experiences carve out the valleys, valleys that no one else has been to or could imagine the darkness that fills them. We experience difficulty that paves steep paths, paths that only we can understand how to climb.

Amidst the doubts and darkness of this season of my life, I have forgotten to take a step back. I have forgotten about the vast green fields and soaring peaks, and I too often let the darkness of the valley overshadow the value of whole landscape. I too easily become overwhelmed by the steepness of the path, so much so that I can’t imagine a peak that would make the pain of this climb worth it.

But here’s the thing, without the valleys and cutting edges, there is nothing to explore. There is nothing to stare at in awe because all we see is sameness, all we see is a flat plain.

True beauty is found in adversity, the kind of adversity that carves mountains out of us.

Each one of us is uniquely carved by the very hands of our Creator Himself. He tenderly places situations in our lives that hurt, situations that present paths that seem too steep to ever climb, but yet we climb. We may begin strengthened by our own power, but there comes a point where in order to put one foot in front of the other, we have to call upon our Creator. We have to scream His name just to empower our weak legs to support us, and sometimes our legs give out. Sometimes the only strength we have is to reach out our arms and cry,

“Abba father, help me!”

We cry for our Daddy to come pick us up, for Him to carry us like the dependent child that we are.

This picture is desperate, but comforting.

This picture is fearfully weak, but powerful.

This picture is desolate, but lovingly intimate.

Our Father is waiting to be called. He is right outside the door ready to answer when we knock. The trials he puts in our path are meant to empower our weary bodies to grow and stretch. Without them, how could we ever feel the strong arms of our Father carrying us up the mountain? How could we ever get to the peak at all?

I came across a quote that paints the picture of the mountains and the gift they bring, but it also presents a challenge that many can not comprehend.

“Do not pray for easier lives; pray to become stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then your life shall be no miracle, but you shall be a miracle. Every day you shall wonder at which is wrought in you by the grace of God.”

-Phillips Brooks

How many of us actually pray this prayer? I didn’t realize this before, but at the root of most of my prayers lie the very thing that doesn’t strengthen me… an easier life. A life that doesn’t require me to lean on the Lord every day in order to survive. A life that doesn’t require me to cry out for my Father to carry me, to allow the joy of feeling His strong arms around my weak body. What kind of life are we all really praying for anyway?

The Lord is looking for followers to strengthen through his Spirit. Followers to move mountains, heal the sick, and speak words of comfort to the broken. Don’t we all want to be that believer?

All the Lord requires of us is sometimes the very thing we pray against, the brokenness of ourselves. Our plans. Our pride. Our understanding. But in this desolate place is the invitation for complete and utter reliance on Him. He made us to experience Himself on a level that this world cannot understand, a level where through our desperate sorrow we can experience the joy that brings full life.

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow…”

James 1:2-4

In order for us to look at the very thing that brings cutting tears to our eyes as the joy that will bring growth requires a mindful strength that doesn’t exist in this world. We have to look to the Heavens and ask the Lord to change our hearts, to allow them to beat alongside His own. We have to fight to take every thought captive, and it takes often more than we have. It is truly an uphill battle, but the Lord is behind us. The Lord is in front of us. The Lord is always with us because He is the very one that orchestrated the battle in the first place, but listen to this…

He has already won the war, so we have nothing to lose.

Friends, let’s rejoice in the valleys. Let’s rejoice in the climb. Let’s rejoice in the battle. They are all given to us in love, a love that wants nothing more than a miracle to take place within us. Our Father wants nothing more than to mold us into a vast mountain range more beautiful than we could ever imagine.

Here are our hearts Lord, mold on.

  - Carrie Bantz