The Mountain of God1
This summer my family vacationed at the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. The cabin in which we stayed for several days of the trip was near the top of a mountain. The view of the surrounding mountain tops was stunning. We observed the sun reflecting off the snow covered peaks in the morning, beautiful shades of orange and pink descending on the rocks as the sun set, and clouds forming in the afternoon sky seemingly close enough to reach out and touch. The beauty of the Rocky Mountains evokes a strong emotional response, even among the more emotionally reserved among us such as me.
Understandably, many have interpreted the experience of the beauty of the mountains as a spiritual experience. The mountains are for many a place where they can be close to God. They are a place where they can hear God speak and where they can worship him in a special way. So, I decided to give being spiritual a shot. One morning I stood on the deck of our cabin alone, emptied my mind, and waited for God to speak. God must have a sense of humor because the first thing He ran through my mind was the thought of all the wicked kings in the Old Testament who made sacrifices and prayed at the high places instead of in the temple, and the wrath of God they incurred for doing so. However, that did get me thinking about what God had spoken to me already, in His Word, about the beauty of the mountains He created. Two Scripture passages came to mind.
First, as I looked out at the mountain range that morning I remembered the many times that God had spoken to me through Psalm 95 in church as I prayed the morning prayer called matins. We would sing: “The Lord is a great God, and a great king above all gods. The deep places of the earth are in His hand; the strength of the hills is His also (the English Standard Version says: “the heights of the mountains are His also”).” God spoke to me in that moment through His Holy Word to say that He created the mountains and their beauty, and that these mountains are being held up by His fatherly hand.
The second Scripture passage that God spoke to me that day in the mountains were these words from Hebrews 12 (as best as I could remember them at the time):
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
I stepped onto the deck of that cabin expecting God to bless me with the beauty of the Rocky Mountains which He had created, and He did. Then God blessed me with an even greater beauty. Through His Word God spoke to me of a better mountain: Mount Zion. Thus God’s Word made me eager not to experience His presence in the Rocky Mountains but in the corn fields of Iowa at the altar of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Burt that Sunday morning. There I wouldn’t experience picturesque sunrises and snowcapped mountains, but by faith I would experience the whole host of heaven and the victorious and life-giving gift of the blood of my Lord Jesus Christ.
I encourage you to seek out spiritual experiences among the beauty of God’s creation. Do so by letting God speak to you through His Word at those special places on earth like the Rocky Mountains. Let God strengthen your faith through His Word in that moment. Let God tell you that the beauty of nature which you are experiencing is a beauty that He has created for you. Let God’s Word also draw you in that moment toward a beauty that far surpasses that of any great mountain of this earth. Let the Word draw your heart toward Mount Zion, the eternal dwelling of Christ our crucified and risen king. Have joy in knowing that this holy mountain is a much easier commute for us than the Rocky Mountains. You have the opportunity to experience the beauty of Mount Zion every time you visit the altar of Christ’s holy Church and receive the forgiveness and life of His body and blood. There is no greater experience on earth than to visit the holy mountain on which we will dwell for all eternity.