It is Monday April 30th at 4:30 pm as I sit writing these thoughts. Today’s forecast was for a beautiful sunny day here in the Carolina Mountains. I arose early this morning and I was in my office by 4:30 am so that I could complete my work day by noon, and then head out for an afternoon hike and quiet prayer time. Mark 1:35“Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.”
I am at this moment sitting high atop the 23rd highest peak in the Carolinas. Black Balsam Bald is 6,214 feet in elevation, the second highest mountain in the Great Balsam Mountains, part of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The top of the mountain is a grassy bald that affords a long distance panoramic view. Why you might ask, am I on this mountain? The answer is simple, because Jesus often went to the mountains to pray. Matthew 14:23 “After doing so, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When it was evening He was there alone.” So following Jesus’ example, I love to go to the mountains for prayer time.
Why did Jesus so often choose the mountains as His place for prayer? We can’t know for sure but the feeling of grandeur at the top of a mountain just seems to invoke the real presence of the Father. These magnificent mountain views seem to give me some sense of what Heaven might be like, yet as stated in 1Cor 2:9 “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him”. Yes, we have some spectacular views and vistas around this country and this is one of them, and yet nothing we have ever seen or experienced comes close to what we will experience in the presence of our God and Father. I came here for quiet reflective prayer time. Luke 5:16 “But he would withdraw to deserted places to pray.” But things did not turn out today as I expected.
Today, when I left my home, it was sunny and eighty three degrees. It was a beautiful 75 mile drive with the top down on my convertible on the way to my chosen hiking destination. Now here at the top of this mountain it is overcast and chilly in the low 60s. I dressed in shorts and a t-shirt expecting a warm spring day. This is neither the weather nor the trip I expected. In one direction I look and see radiant beams of sunlight filtering through the clouds. In the other direction I see dark heavy clouds, a sign of a storm coming my way. I cannot help but be caught up in the similarity to life itself. Some days of life are sunny, some dark, cloudy and stormy and other days you are in the sun but sense the approaching storm. Some days we even cause the storms in our lives.
Stormy days will at sometime arrive for all of us, usually, like on my trip today, often when we are least prepared for them. Our personal storms can take all kinds of shapes: problems at work, loss of employment, marital challenges, problems with children, problems with parents, the loss of a love one, an illness, an addiction or other storms. My involvement in the Cursillo movement over the last 25 years has taught methat it is important to take time every day in prayer and study so that when the storms of life come, I am firmly rooted in Christ to handle the storm.
Yes we must become dependent on Him, and it is through daily prayer and study that we can. Listen to what Matthew tells us in Matthew 6: 25-34 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.”
The winds are picking up now on this mountain, the temperature is still dropping and I sense the storm is not far off. It is time for me to seek physical shelter. Perhaps it is time for you because of the storms in your life to seek spiritual shelter or perhaps you are being called to lead someone else to the protective shelter of Christ love.
I must descend from the top of the mountain now and finish typing later after seeking shelter from the storm….. ….
Okay it is now a few hours later and I have retraced my 75 journey and I am in the safety of my home. I can now finish writing. Here on my back porch, the sun is back out again and it is in the eighties and at this moment it is totally quiet except for the chirping of birds. That is how life is when we are grounded in Christ. The storms can come up quickly, unexpectedly and with no warning. But he will see us through and there will be sun on the other side of the storm. Just like the birds and the flowers God has us always in his care.
Jesus provides us a living example, knowing that he had his own storm justover the horizon (his crucifixtion) spent significant time in quiet prayer.Jesus had his place on the mountain to pray. Have you found your quiet place for daily prayer? Do you spend time in study, getting to know God better? There may be storm clouds over the horizon. In his care you will be prepared.