“God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord Almighty is with us;Psalm 46 (NIV)
the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
I just finished reading Made to Move Mountains by Kristen Welch. She quotes this Bible passage in her book, but in light of the recent events in our world, perspectives have changed everything. This was going to be a simple book review, recommending Welch’s book to you for your small group study — an inspiration to climb your own mountains and encourage one another to follow your dreams. However, the continuing Covid-19 crisis, long term care lockdowns, political turmoil and racial tensions in the US, have overwhelmed me to look at God’s word and the themes in this book with new eyes. Pride month will start today in my neighbourhood. School is closed for the year and I have no work. I feel like I am sitting at the base of my very own mountain.
Welch begins by reminding us that there are two types of mountains we face: some are our dreams, goals, and personal challenges. These are the mountains we choose to climb. The other mountains are our disasters, crises and personal threats that we don’t choose ourselves, but are forced to climb nonetheless. We need Jesus for both. This book is great at balancing between both types of mountains and reminding us of the end goal — the summit. I love how she starts one of her chapters with this Chinese proverb:
“There are many paths up the mountain, but the view from the top is always the same.”
In other words, each time we climb a mountain… be it a forced climb, or one we are willing to take, we can rejoice in the final view. The paths to the top may be different each time, and each trail will shape the view and perspective of the top. However, we are changed by our accomplishments and driven forward by our joys along the path. This too, sometimes requires perspective. We all have taken a different journey and can add our thoughts to the road ahead because of our unique experiences. And no one should climb mountains alone. You prepare, you intentionally plan and gather equipment, and you often have a crew behind you or ahead of you cheering you on. My family recently watched Free Solo, National Geographic’s award winning documentary about Alex Honnold’s climb of mount El Capitan without a safety rope! It’s both gut wrenching and brilliant. And although he climbs alone and “unaided”, the film crew, his friends, and ultimately the viewing audience is drawn in to see Alex make it to the top — alive. Kristen Welch does much the same thing in her book by focusing our thoughts on our faith in Christ, our community, and our neighbours. Each of the chapters have a “mountain top moment” for personal reflection and/or a challenge. These would be a great start off point for small group discussion too.
And so I muse this week, about passion, perspective and climbing mountains. I am prompted by Made to Move Mountains to question: Who is my neighbour and what am I doing to love them as Christ does? I mean to really love them with passion and action? Is my faith really deep enough to trust that God will move the mountains in front of me? Or that He will see me to the top? God made each one of us different. Different colours, different sizes, with different gifts and talents. Each of us are geared towards our own sense of justice and passion. Each of us have faced our own personal mountains and have been shaped by our own climbs. For Kristen Welch, it is The Mercy House and a child with a scary diagnosis. For protesters in the US, it is another senseless death of a black man. Perhaps mine is this little piece of the internet where I can share my thoughts. Or maybe it is being a part of raising the next generation to be more kind and considerate than I am. For beyond these mountains we move today, there will be more mountains. But God loves bad odds. And Psalm 46 reminds us that He is in charge. He is our ever-present help in trouble and has given us the power to move mountains! He will give us the faith to climb to the summit. This book has some great quotes scattered throughout it, so I’ll end with one Welch quotes from Solon on justice and simply let it speak for itself: