Amy always loved to visit the mountains. She was able to visit the Alps in the summer of 1994 while on a trip with the Iowa Ambassadors of Music. In her journal from that trip she made several comments about the beauty of the area. After a couple days around Lake Geneva, which included a day hike to Châtel with her friend Alice, she remarked “I love this place so much that I don’t want to go on. Too bad! Dommage. I’ll miss it so much.” Personally, I’m glad she did return because then we were able to visit the Great Smokey Mountains around Gatlinburg, Tennessee for our Honeymoon in 1998. We made our way out to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado for our first anniversary in 1999 and we traveled back to the Rockies again several other times. The last mountain she got to go up on was Pike’s Peak in 2011.
The trouble with driving to visit the Rockies is the road you have to take to get there. For all the amazing beauty of the mountains, you must first pass through the plains. I don’t mean to belittle the likes of Eastern Colorado or Western Nebraska (or the seemingly never ending trek across I-80 through these lands), they contain their own beauty and they can be enjoyed and have much to offer. However, if your mind is on the mountains and the anticipation of being there, the plains are agony! You must simply endure mile after mile, each one looking mostly like the last one and the next one. In the midst of it, you know there is an end and yet it seems as though it will never come. If you are not careful, the drive will lead you to despair and hopelessness, you may even edge towards being bitter and angry about the landscape in which you find yourself.
What is a person supposed to do when a season of life becomes analogous with the drive through the plains? In my devotions yesterday the writer, speaking of grief, describes it as feeling “as though we are dragging ourselves through a rugged valley with little or no relief.” We know there is an end to the valley (and the plains). The end result will be glorious and great and will help us to forget all about the pain of the valley. That very real truth is easy to forget when all we see is mile after agonizing mile of flat, bleak plains.
In Psalm 34, David recounts how the Lord delivered Him. He shows us how we should respond in the midst of life’s valleys. Verses 1 through 3 tell us:
1 I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul will make its boast in the Lord;
The humble will hear it and rejoice.
3 O magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together.
What an excellent charge for us today. No matter the circumstances, we can praise and worship God! Verse 4 continues:
4 “I sought the Lord, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.”
No matter how dark and agonizing the plains of life presently are, the Lord is here, answering, and delivering. Verses 5 through 7 declare God’s rescue:
5 They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces will never be ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
And saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them.
And then in verse 8 we find a beautiful reminder of the blessing that comes to those who seek God for their protection and find Him to be good.
8 O taste and see that the Lord is good;
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!”
God’s blessings take many forms. Too often we only think of blessings as material things but seeing and experiencing mountains is a blessing. Comfort, rest, and peace for a weary soul is a blessing. Strength for today is a blessing. Memories of sweet times together is a blessing. Prayers and love from others is a blessing. Unchanging truth of God’s Word is a blessing. Hope, knowing that the mountains are coming is a blessing. Eternal hope in the Lord, knowing something even greater than the mountains is on the horizon, even better than that, is here now, is a blessing.
Psalm 34:18 says:
18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
God is near, no matter the season of life, He is near. How thankful I am that in midst of my broken heart, He is here. My crushed spirit is being restored because He IS good!
I always had a desire to take Amy back to Lake Geneva to see the Alps once again. I wanted to have the privilege of experiencing that with her but we never got that chance. Today, Amy is experiencing sights and wonders in the presence of God that make the beauty and grandeur of the Alps seem no more wonderful than a heap of sand in a kids sandbox. One day, because of my salvation in Jesus, I will get to experience the marvelousness of God with her. Looking forward helps to alleviate present hurt and pain.
Are you looking towards the Lord? Whatever season of life you find yourself in today, will you magnify the Lord with me, and can we lift up His name together?
1 I love you, O Lord, my strength.
2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3 I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies.
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.