I’m a country girl to the marrow of my bones. If you know me, or have met me, no doubt you noticed that my tongue is country, too. My twang doesn’t sound exactly like Loretta Lynn, the Coal Miner’s Daughter, but you would know by listening that we could be related. (FYI: I’m proud to be a coal miner’s grand-daughter!)
Each day, I stand on the back porch of the parsonage set against the creek and mountain, and breathe in. I praise the Lord that He planted me here.
My beloved was invited to speak at baccalaureate for the graduates of Oneida Baptist Institute on Saturday. We wove our way through the countryside enjoying the gorgeous scenery. OBI is a Christian boarding and day school set in rural Oneida, Kentucky (Clay County). Students from at least 15 countries were celebrated as they graduated from high school. Though I didn’t know them, the young men and women were beautiful to behold in their shining graduation gowns. Their smiles were broad and their dreams were broader. How exciting and terrifying to be a high school graduate.
Arriving considerably early, I walked around the sanctuary of OBI viewing portraits of past presidents and Athletic Hall of Famers. I looked at trophies that lined the back wall. With still a while before the service started, I ventured out the back door. There was a lovely garden just outside against the mountain. It called to me.
I took a seat on old steps and sat very still, soaking up every second. It was completely quiet. The temperature was perfect and a small breeze stirred. Oh, how I love the mountains!
God and Jesus do, too! In the Old Testament, time after time, people were called to the mountain. Abraham sacrificed his personal will and nearly his son, Isaac, on the mountain. Moses heard from God for the first time through the burning bush on the mountain. The Ten Commandments were given on Mount Sinai. One of my favorite Moses stories involves a hill and is told in Exodus 17. The Israelites were facing the Amalekites in battle. While Joshua led the army, Moses went up on a hill and held up his hands. As long as they were up in the air, the Israelites were winning.
There are many good mountain and hill verses in the Old Testament. I LOVE Psalm 98:8: “Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy.” I’m picturing rivers clapping and mountains singing! For years, Psalm 121:1-2 has been a fave: “I lift up my eyes to the mountains-where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” The KJV says, “to the hills”. I’m good with either!
In the New Testament, Jesus was often heading to hills or mountains for solace. In Matthew 14:23, He went there to pray and for time alone. He appointed disciples on a mountainside in Mark 3 and in Luke 6:12, it tells that He spent the entire night (a.k.a. camped out) and prayed to His Father. One of His favorite places was the Mount of Olives.
In the mountains, I am reminded of the presence of God! He is EVERYWHERE! He didn’t have to make trees different shapes and sizes, but He did! In the spring, they bud and sprout bringing the reminder of new life. In the fall, they have been strategically placed to show contrasting breathtaking colors. He didn’t have to do that, but He did.
God didn’t have to make birds sing. They could have been silent but they are not. As I am typing, a bird is chirping so loudly through the screen door, it sounds like it’s right here in the kitchen! “Hello! Hello!” it calls. “Are you ready to start the day?!” I don’t speak “bird” but that’s what it sounds like.
God didn’t have to make flowers smell, but He did. This week, the scents of honeysuckle and wild roses are intoxicating. Sorry if your sinuses are clogged! My beloved and I roll down the windows as we ride in the car to take it all in! Whew and ptL!
Lots of things happen on the mountaintops. Spiritually speaking, the mountaintop experiences are the victorious times, an urgent need met, a miraculous healing, the revivals, the mission trips, the finish of a spectacular VBS. It’s when we have seen the LORD! We have felt His presence!
Lots of things also happen in the valleys. It’s in the valleys, in the “hollers,” where we live our daily lives, where we face the giants, the hard times. God is with us there, too! Psalm 23:4 reminds us…“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will not fear for You are with me.”
He. Is. With. Me. That’s good stuff for this Coal Miner’s grand-daughter!
Dawn Reed is a newspaper columnist and pastor's wife in Prestonsburg. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.