The View From Right Here

I have to confess that I’ve had sort of a bad attitude about life lately. Because if life is a game of Candy Land, I’ve been stuck in Molasses Swamp for eighteen turns now. And if life is a climb, I’ve been on this mountain far too long and I’m not even sure how close I am to the top.

And when your entire journey has been a heart racing, thigh straining, lung bursting climb straight up the mountain, it’s easy to get discouraged. Even after you’ve finally reached the top, it’s easy to forget the view. Because the climb down isn’t any better. In fact, sometimes straight down is even worse than straight up. Every knee-jarring step leads you farther from the view, and if you get your focus in the wrong place, you’ll quickly forget the wonder of watching the fog part to unfold an entire world before you.

I’ve found myself wanting to fast-forward a year or so—just far enough that I don’t have to be in this rut any longer. Just far enough that I’ve actually got life somewhat figured out. And then I realize how laughable that thought is, because when have I ever had life figured out? Sure, there was a time I thought I did, but when I look at how far I am from that dream now…

And once again, I find the words of Hannah Brencher echoing in my head.

“Life will lose its worth if you are only ripping to find the answers.”

And I find that her words are a reprimand because I’m missing life now, in this moment, because I’m so caught up in where I want to be some day in the future.

And maybe I don’t need to be at the top right now.

Maybe it’s enough to just stop and take a deep breath, filling my lungs with life, enjoying the feel of the mist on my skin.

Maybe it’s enough to know that I’ve climbed mountains like this before and it has always, always, always been worth it.

And maybe it’s time to remember that the view from the top isn’t always the most important one.

Maybe it’s time to take in the view from right here.

the view from right here

Significance

I just returned from the top of the world. Okay, so it wasn’t the very top. In fact, it wasn’t even close. My brother who lives in the Himalayan Mountains tells me that the Blue Ridge Mountains are “just hills.” If that’s a fact, I don’t think I could handle the view he sees every day, because as far as I’m concerned, there is nothing more breathtaking than the Blue Ridge Mountains in October. I think the words of my friend and coworker summed it up quite perfectly: “How can anyone think there is not a God?”

How can anyone possibly look out over the splendor of creation and think that this world “just happened”? Jesus said that if we failed to praise Him, the rocks would cry out. I think they are already crying out. Those enormous chunks of granite were screaming at me this weekend. Most days, I fail to notice the glory of God’s creation, but looking out over the world from the peak of a mountain, I couldn’t help but find myself struggling for breath. It was truly that amazing. I think I know how David felt when he penned the words,

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?

That’s how small I felt. I’m just a tiny piece of a colossal universe. So insignificant. And yet so loved by God. He’s so concerned about my quickly passing life that He counted the number of hairs on my head. And He keeps track of the ones that I shed, and the new ones that keep growing. So insignificant. Yet, oh so important to Him. He sees the leaves that fall from the trees every autumn, and the tiny buds that bloom every spring. He catches shooting stars in the palm of His hand, and breathes the wind into motion. The ocean echoes the beating of His heart as the waves rush in and out, in and out. He controls the big things, and still finds time for the small, seemingly insignificant things like me. That just blows my mind.

I don’t understand it. I won’t try to understand it because I’ll only end up with a splitting headache. In a world of sunshine and mountains, oceans and planets – a world where more than six billion people live and breathe, God still cares about the itty-bitty details concerning my life. What is man that God is mindful of us? I wonder if David ever received an answer to that question.

Once upon a time, God said, “Let us make man in our image.” And that is where our story began. God wrote our story, and He became a part of our story. In a world so big, He is still concerned about us. He is still actively involved in our stories. And when I stand on top of a mountain, looking down at my world, I feel so very small, and yet so very big all at the same time. Because no matter how insignificant my life may seem, God is mindful of me. And that gives my life great significance.

Mountain-Sized Enthusiasm

Yesterday, I went on a little adventure with my friend, Shannon. It wasn’t one of those things I would normally consider to be an adventure, but with Shannon, everything is an adventure. So there we were, sitting in a bagel shop, when she finds out I had never been there before. “Girl,” she exclaimed, “I just love that I get to be part of all these firsts with you! Like the downtown mall, the Mellow Mushroom, and now this.”

I blinked. We were eating bagels and she managed to make it sound like we were climbing Mt. Everest. I quickly found her mountain-sized enthusiasm stirring my own. Believe it or not, I’m not naturally one of those excitable kind of people. I’m often hard to impress, and I don’t enjoy exploring new things. That kind of goes against everything I’ve been saying, doesn’t it? But it’s true. While my brother inherited my dad’s “happy feet,” I tend to cling to my grandma’s mentality of not wanting to leave home.  

I remember how, shortly after I moved down here, my coworkers kept encouraging me to “explore the territory” and drive around town “just for fun.” I remember having two distinct thoughts about that.

  1. I don’t think it’s wise for a young woman to wander around such a busy town all by herself. 
  2. That’s not fun; that’s torture.

That’s how little I enjoy “adventure.”

But then I go places with people like Shannon and I see the world through different eyes.  As I was sitting in that bagel shop with my oh so excitable friend, I realized something… When I’m with Shannon, the mundane things become exciting and the small things appear to be colossal. I live the journey so much better when I’m living it with her. But I want to live like that all the time. I want to be the kind of person who makes an adventure out of mall trips, and pizza places, and bagel shops.

And while Shannon’s mountain-sized enthusiasm seems impossible for me to achieve, I’ll start with a hill – a little mound really. And maybe if I pray hard enough, live loud enough, and truly rejoice in the little things, my mound will become a mountain. I’ll just take it like I have to take everything else in life – one little step, one gloriously mundane moment at a time.

The Still, Small Voice

Recognizing God’s Voice is something most of us tend to struggle with. “How do I know it’s God and not just my own thoughts?” we wonder. Sometimes that is an easy question to answer. I know I’ve heard God’s Voice before because there is no way I would have just thought the thing that came to my mind. Other times, it is harder to distinguish whether the desire in your heart is your own will or what God is calling you toward. When it comes to distinguishing God’s Voice in the Bible, my thoughts instantly turn to the story in 1 Kings 19.

In this story, God tells Elijah to go stand on a mountain and wait for God to pass by. So Elijah waits on the mountain. While he is waiting, a strong wind sweeps through the mountains and shatters the rocks, but God wasn’t in the wind. So Elijah waits until an earthquake shakes the mountain on which he was standing, but God was not in the earthquake. As Elijah waits there came a fire, but God was not in the fire. But after the wind, and the earthquake, and the fire are gone, Elijah hears a still, small Voice… and it was the Lord speaking to him.

Elijah was waiting to hear God’s Voice in all these huge things. That’s where we naturally would expect God to be, but He wasn’t in the wind, or the earthquake, or the fire (although He has been known to appear in all of those things before). God spoke to Elijah in a still, small Voice. God speaks to you in a still, small Voice. Are you prepared to hear Him? Is your heart open to receive Him?