It’s easy to fear what we do not understand.
For many the beginning of summer means the end of the school year but also the beginning of uncertainty. Maybe you just graduated high school. You’re starting college in the fall and you have no clue what to expect next. Maybe you just graduated college and now you have no idea where you’re going to work (been there). No matter what stage of life we find ourselves in we seem to always seem wonder what’s ahead. We focus on what we cannot see and what we cannot understand. The unknown is both interesting and terrifying. It is exciting and sometimes crippling. Without knowing what tomorrow holds we press forward hoping that the next day or next year is better than the last. We set goals and resolutions that we may meet or fall short of. We create ideas of who we want to be and what we hope will happen to give ourselves a little assurance about what lies ahead. As we walk the journey what we know, our past, often dictates what we will do next. Sometimes our path feels like it’s the same everyday, perhaps it feels like the journey is just a circle we keep walking in because we feel stuck. But even we feel like we’re in the same cycle every week there is one thing that is for sure...there’s a mountain ahead on the path.
The mountain represents all that we do not know. It represents our concerns and our fears. It reminds us of the times that we have fallen before. It makes our weaknesses clear to us. No one likes the mountain. If you do then feel free to stop reading because this isn’t for you. It doesn’t feel good to stand at the foot of the mountain and look up at this insurmountable obstacle. It makes us feel small and insignificant. It often discourages us from continuing on the journey if we cannot find an easier path. It is hard to make it up the mountain but there is good that this obstacle can bring.
None of us wants to feel weak, small or insignificant. None of us wants to feel overwhelmed and burdened. These feelings don’t feel good but they do remind us that mountain was never meant to be climbed alone. For many reading this it’s very easy to recall a time where our faith in God was not where it should have been. We saw the mountain and fear immediately rose within us taking away the confidence that was placed within us. We often look at fear and faith as opposites but I recently saw a post that said, “Fear is faith in the what-ifs.” Fear hasn’t taken away your faith it has simply misplaced it.
Here’s the reality, if you’ve been to church for any amount of time you’ve probably heard a sermon on faith at least once or twice. We’ve heard or read the Bible accounts of miracles that God has done. Maybe you’ve even seen God do a miracle firsthand. When we dig deep we will often recognize that the devil is not attacking our faith in what God can do. He will usually attack our belief in what God can do through us. We know that God can move the mountain but can He use us to move it? We know God can save our friends but can He use us to tell our friends about salvation? We know that God can do the miracle but can the miracle be done through us?
It’s these questions, the unknown factor, that causes us to stumble. We don’t feel special or anointed and so we put limitations on what God does in our lives. We can limit God? Yes! Psalm 78:41 tells us that the people of God “...limited the Holy One of Israel.” Let’s take a look at another example when Moses received the Ten Commandments on top of the mountain.
"Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” (Exodus 20:18-19)
They knew that God’s presence was on the mountain but their fear of what they did not understand stopped them. Moses was their mediator but God’s desire wasn’t just for the people to hear Him through Moses but for them to speak with Him. They thought if God spoke to them they would die. Today it’s not the physical mountain that stops us from getting closer to God but rather a spiritual one. We feel what they saw. Clouds, lightning and storms cause an uncertainty about whether or not what’s ahead is actually worth it. A new school or a new job causes concern about how Christian we’ll actually be able to be. So how do we overcome these obstacles? How do we climb the mountain?
We get to the top of the mountain but realizing that the way up is actually down. Remember those feelings of weakness and insignificance we thought about earlier? Climbing isn’t about trying to be strong. It’s about accepting that we’re weak. What?! It’s about recognizing that there is absolutely no way we’re going to make it up there without some help. There is comfort in knowing that we do not have to do it on our own. God does not expect you to climb by your own strength. This isn’t about not giving any effort. God does expect effort. It’s about taking the step and expecting God to create the foothold. It’s about reaching up and knowing that God will create the next ledge. It’s about climbing for His glory instead of your own ambitions. Your mountain will not look like my mountain and that’s fine. God may have you in ministry, school or working 40 hours a week. Whatever you’re doing and wherever you are remember that God is not bringing you up so that you can look for credit. He wants to bring up to where He is so you can tell others how to get there.