Two years ago our family moved out West to the mountains of Colorado. Going for hikes and exploring the mountains has quickly become a pretty frequent family activity. It has also been a bit of a sanctuary where God has been speaking to me about Himself. In fact, Christians believe that God speaks in general to everyone through creation. Romans 1:20 says, For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.
In this article I’d like to touch on just three three of those aspects.
- The Wildness of God
We live our lives before the wild, dangerous, unfettered and free character of the living God. –Walter Brueggemann
Our kids absolutely love climbing the rocks in the mountains. As parents however, there is one reality we seem to be more aware of than they are: it isn’t exactly the safest environment! Americans are extremely and perhaps uniquely concerned about safety. From strict seat-belt laws, to instructions given in great detail with all kinds of safety warning or precautions, to helmets for sports, bike riding, to man-made playgrounds designed for safety to so much more, we are unrivaled in our safety obsession.
But there is a wildness and even raw danger built into God’s creation. From wild animals to dangerous surroundings, a fear is invoked in us, and yet a sense of exhilaration and inspiration for greatness. People in fact climb mountains (braving danger and risk of life or limb) for the sole purpose of the challenge and to see if they can conquer. Mountains have become synonymous with bravery, overcoming our fears, being free, rugged and daring.
What does this tell us about our Creator? I think C.S. Lewis put it best in his allegorical children’s book “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” in this conversation one of the children has when first learning about Aslan (a type of Christ): “Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
One of my favorite authors is John Eldridge. He happens to actually live here in Colorado too. The first book of his, “Wild at Heart” helped me overcome one of my greatest problems with what I perceived growing up as a “wimpy” and “boring” and “nice” Christianity. There would be too much to try to quote from in his book, but the title says it all. There is a wildness at the very heart of God. Jesus, God in human flesh, is far from the “weak” and even sometimes “pretty boy” he is portrayed to be. In fact, He is portrayed in Scripture not as a “Mr. Rogers” type nice guy who never ruffles any feathers or dares offend anyone and plays by all the religious and cultural rules. Rather, by his own actions and a title given to him, He is known as the “Lion of the Tribe of Judah.”
Dorothy Sayers is well known for this perceptive observation: “The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused him of being a bore – on the contrary, they thought him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround him with an atmosphere of tedium. We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified him ‘meek and mile,’ and recommended him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies.”
The mountains remind us that there is a wildness about God. He is “Wild at Heart.” It would do us some good to get to know this aspect of His Nature, for when we discover that He is good but dangerous; it can make the timid bold, the fearful courageous, the weak strong, and enable us to accomplish some mighty feats and exploits in and through His Name. He is the Prince of Peace but also the Burning Bush deep in the Mountains; the Lamb of God, but also Lion of Judah; the Good Shepherd but also Mighty Warrior
2. The Majesty of God
You are radiant with light, more majestic than mountains rich with game. -Psalm 76:4
One of the first things that comes to mind when you see the mountains is the word “majestic.” I didn’t know until we moved out to Colorado Springs that the words to one of American’s most cherished songs, America the Beautiful, was penned while Katherine Lee Bates was coming down Pikes Peak, the very mountain tip I see everyday driving to work! Her inspiration came while taking in the “majesty” of the mountains. She even linked “mountain” and “majesty” together:
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
Scripture again and again speaks of the “Majesty of God.” The term “Majesty” or “Majestic” is language we use when speaking of something (or someone) “dignified” “breath-taking” “powerful.” When looking at the mountains or recognizing the “splendor” even of earthly kingdoms, kings or queens, these are meant to remind us that the Maker of this world, the King of Kings, is even more majestic than all created things and earthly kings or kingdoms combined!
Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? -Exodus 15:11
3. The Mighty Power of God
You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds, God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas, who formed the mountains by your power, having armed yourself with strength… -Psalm 65:5-6
God is Wild and Majestic, which speaks of his great Power. Likewise, the mountains are a symbol and reminder of his awesome power. To think that the mighty mountains we see have been created by One even more powerful is astonishing!
This truth has very practical implications to our daily lives, let alone what it should mean to our worship. The very God who created mountains, can also level mountains. There are a plethora of Scriptures that speak to this very truth (Isaiah 45:2, Job 9:5, Psalm 18:7, Psalm 97:5, Psalm 104:32, etc). What this means is that it should inspire great faith in us to believe that nothing is indeed too hard for him. He can “move the mountains” and is “Mighty to Save” as one well-known contemporary song puts it.
The Mountains are speaking to us of the Wildness, Majesty and Mighty Power of God. These are three aspects to the Nature of God that when joined together in our lives, can lead us into some incredible adventures and dynamics in relationship with God! Perhaps the American pull to “Go West” (despite all the very tragic and sad injustices and abuses that have occurred out of that in our past) is really a pull of the soul to the Wildness, Majesty, and Power of God. Perhaps too the Mountains have something to say of the Character of God that somehow seems to get lost, diminished and robbed of it’s grandeur within the confines and limitations of our man-made structures and church buildings. Don’t try to tame and declaw the Lion; rather stand in awe and worship the Lion of the Tribe of Judah!
Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. -Psalm 90:2