The Mountain You’re Stuck On

Mark 11:23-24

Consider Your Favorite Mountains

I suggested yesterday that mountains have their good qualities, lest we go about dropping them into the ocean without thought and thereby raising the sea level to a point that Atlanta is on the coast. But I’d like today to dwell a bit on the negative aspects of mountains.

Mountains can be seductive. Think back to that story about Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. Peter–foot in mouth as usual–got so excited that he wanted to build houses on the mountain to stay there. In Exodus 33, after the débâcle of the Golden Calf, the people of Israel mourned when directed to leave Sinai.

It’s possible that a really great mountain isn’t standing in your way in the sense of blocking your route. Instead, maybe that mountain is standing in your way by keeping you in place. I didn’t think I was going there when I started writing this, but it occurs to me that our current struggle over renaming our church could be such a mountain.

We like this name. We like our identity as “First” or “Baptist.” And indeed this name has served us well for years. But if we linger on a mountain when God wants us to move on, if we cling to particular music or a particular style of teaching or a particular paint color on the walls or anything, then that has the potential to be a mountain that doesn’t block our way but instead prevents us from moving on our way.

Tell it to move. It’ll move. And if it doesn’t move, then maybe it’s a good mountain.

  • What are the mountains in your life that cause you to avoid stepping out on the path God has planned for you?
  • Are there good mountains that we ought to preserve at all costs? Or that we should just preserve for the time being?
  • Pray this week that God will give you the insight to distinguish between the mountains that should move and those that should stay.

A Mountain in the Way

Mark 11:23

Know Your Mountains

This idea of moving mountains is in all four gospels in one manner or another; thus, those who read the New Testament  regularly run across it. How many times have you read about moving mountains out of your way or dropping them into the sea and thought, “Oh yeah, Jesus, you’re really going out on a limb there!”

Mountains, either in our own lives or in the context of the Bible, are marvelous things. Without mountains, the whole world is Kansas. Where do we ski? Where does the Von Trapp go to escape the Nazis? In the Bible, mountains provide terrific places for important things to happen. Would it have been exciting for Moses to receive the law on the plain of Sinai? Would it seem right if Jesus had met with Elijah and Moses anywhere other than the Mount of Transfiguration? And speaking of Elijah, I think his most dramatic action, facing off against the prophets of Baal, would have seemed less impressive had it not been on Mount Carmel.

Mountains are great until you have a mountain in your way. Jesus was not anti-mountain, but He used the idea of a mountain to suggest an obstacle. When we are trying to get where God wants us to go, when we are following in the way that He has designed for us, then the obstacle of a mountain should go. In fact, every mountain and hill should be made low and the crooked parts of the route made straight. Didn’t Isaiah say something like that?

The idea of moving mountains is not a parlor trick, just as the idea of killing a fig tree was not one. I can’t imagine when it would be proper to drop a mountain into the sea, but if that mountain stands between you and God’s will for you, then it will move at your word.

  • What “mountains” or obstacles stand between you and what God wants for you?
  • How many of those mountains are ones you placed in the way yourself? Which ones are barriers established by others?
  • Are you in close enough communication with God to know the mountains that you should move? What can you do to improve that communication today?