By Pastor Glenn Pease
Mary Crowley is one of the richest women in America. She is founder and president of the multi-million dollar empire of Home Interiors And Gifts Inc. She was the first woman to sit on the board of directors of the Billy Graham Assoc. In reading her book Think Mink, I discovered she has a retreat center in the mountains of Colorado. She brings all her displayers there for training, because her business is helping people make their environment beautiful, and she knows no better way to get her sales people inspired with beauty than to spend some time in the mountains, where God has designed the beauty of the environment.
She has a full length window for them to gaze out on the golden sunrise from 9,000 feet up on the 14,197 foot Mt. Princeton. On the back of her calling card are these words: "Every morning lean thine arm a while upon the window sill of heaven and gaze upon thy God. Then with that vision in thine heart, turn strong to meet the day."
She gets gold from the mountains, but she never digs an ounce. Her gold comes from their inspiration. Listen to the testimony of Dr. N. A. Woychok in his book Building Gold, Silver And Precious Stones. He has always wanted to see the sunrise from Pike's Peak in Colorado.
"We arose at 2:00 A.M. Higher and higher we climbed until
the peak was reached, not without dizziness and "fear tremors."
Slowly dawn's rosy steps were advancing on the Eastern sky,
until the few broken clouds, hanging above the horizon as if
purposefully for effect, were gloriously lighted up into a fuchia
red against a background of brilliant blue. And then "Old Sol"
tipped the horizon and presently came forth ablaze with divine
glory, adorned as "a bridegroom coming out of his chamber."
"Standing there on an elevation almost three miles above sea
level, we scanned the horizon some one hundred twenty-five
miles away and actually looked down upon the sun. I gazed
upon this beauty with an indescribable inner exhilaration, as
if under the spell of some strange magic. My mind, soul, and
spirit feasted sumptuously. The vision inflamed my imagination
and became a permanent part of my life, just as much as if some
special "tabernacle" had been built to preserve it. It became a
thing of beauty whose loveliness increases, and it shall never
pass into nothingness."
We only spent four days in the mountains of Colorado, and though we had been there before, they fill you with awe because of their massiveness and majesty. It makes sense why God does so much of His business with men on the mountains. They are a fitting environment for man to confront the majesty of their Creator. God began the new world after the flood on Mount Ararat where the Ark landed. The second half of Exodus all revolves around Mount Sinai where God gave His law to His people through Moses.
There are dozens of mountain scenes. For example, where Abraham offers up Isaac on Mt. Moriah; where Lot flees to the mountains; where Jacob offered sacrifice on the mountains. Aaron died on Mt. Hor and Moses on Mt. Nebo, and Saul on Mt. Gibbon. Elijah won his great victory over idolatry on Mr. Carmel. In the New Testament Jesus did so many special things on mountains. His most famous sermon is the Sermon On The Mount. On Mt. Tabor He was transfigured. On Mt. Calvary He died for the sins of the world. On the Mt. of Olives He ascended into heaven where He reigns on Mt. Zion, the name of the New Jerusalem, or heaven. We sing about marching upward to Zion the beautiful city of God.
There are hundreds of verses on mountains in the Bible, but we want to focus on the last mountain in the Bible. It is a mountain so high that John could see heaven from it. Rev. 21:10 says, "He carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God." Seeing heaven from a mountain top was the unique experience of the Apostle John. Millions have seen the glory of earth from the mountain, but only John saw the glory of heaven from the mountain. Moses was allowed to see the Promise Land from Mt. Nebo, but only John saw the Eternal Paradise for all God's people from the mountain top. This was the ultimate mountain top experience.
God is saying something to all His people by revealing so much of His will and truth from the mountain top. What He is saying is that our perspective determines our perception, or, in other words, our stand point determines what we see. Why do men and women climb mountains? It is not just because they are there, but because of what they can see from there. Why do men and women blast off into space? It is because they can see the whole world from a unique perspective. They can see how the laws of nature work differently in that weightless environment. Everything looks different from the heights.
Little Zacheaus climbed up a sycamore tree because he could see Jesus from a new perspective, and that climb gave him a glimpse that changed his life forever. Seeing Jesus from a more lofty height is a life-changing perspective. Mountains give us two different perspectives that help us see life differently. When you are high in them, you can look down and see the awesome scene below, and when you are below you can look up and see the awesome scene of their heights. Either way you look, up or down, you can see what cannot be seen the same from any other perspective.
Now this is not entirely true, for if you fly you can get a perspective from the heights that changes everything. I once flew over Pittsburgh in a small plane. On the ground you can drive in that city and be convinced they just put a snake on a piece of paper and let it crawl to plan the roads. But from the plane I could see a pattern and an order that could not be seen from the ground. Everything was different. Out over the country side too every plot of land was uniform and there was order that could never be detected from the ground. You could see the parts in the context of the whole and get a view of reality that was only available from the heights.
The reason God wants His people to climb to greater heights is because they can see what is not visible in the low lands. Isa. 40:31 says, "Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles..." The poet wrote:
"Rise and soar into the sunlit ways,
Using both the wings of prayer
Mount like eagles-higher in the
And you'll find things look so
different when you fly."
This is why people fly and why they climb mountains. They want to see things differently. If you can just get high enough you can see from heaven's perspective, and from that viewpoint you can always be optimistic. Poor John was in exile on the island of Patmos. He was a prisoner and at the mercy of anti-Christ powers. It would be easy to be pessimistic, for the facts were very real, and very gloomy. But God took him to a mountain where he could see the final destination, and he became the world's foremost optimist.
Mountains do this to you. They help you see the potential of the future because of the vast possibilities that still exist. Every time I drive in the mountains I look off into the vast spaces of them and wonder if any human being has ever been there. There has to be millions of square miles where human feet have never been. There is no end it seems to the possible resources not yet discovered. People are going off and finding precious stones all the time. The world is full of treasure that is not yet been found. There is still gold in them thar hills. Out on the prairie it seems almost every inch of the land is accounted for. It is fenced off and planted, and being used for some purpose. But the mountains are filled with endless unused areas, and nobody yet knows their potential.
They make you realize the best gold nugget may not yet have been found. The best gemstones could be in any of those mountains just waiting to be discovered. Mountains give you the perspective of hope, for there is so much yet to be discovered. The mountain view of life makes you realize that the world is still full of opportunities. None of us has yet discovered all the treasure God has for us. We are like mountains. We have gifts not yet discovered, developed, and dedicated to the glory of God.
In a men's Bible study we took a test, and men were discovering they had potential in all sorts of areas where they did not think they did, and would never have said they did. We only scratched the surface, but we learn that there is likely potential gifts in all of us that lie buried like gold and precious gems in the mountains, where no one has ever yet explored.
A mountain perspective on life will make us see ourselves and others as people with hidden potential. Even greatly gifted people do not always have their gifts on their lapel like a name tag. They are hidden and need to be discovered. When Giuseppe Verdi applied to the Conservatory of the Milan to be a student of music the school officials were not impressed with this 18 year old. They rejected the greatest musician who ever applied for entrance to their school. Later, of course, after his successful career they changed the name of their school from the Conservatory of Milan to the Verdi Conservatory. They only saw his gift when it was full blown, and so conspicious that everyone could see it. The mountain-like perspective would have enabled them to see his potential in his early stages. How do you see people? You get what you see type perspective, or who knows what hidden potential is in this person?
Jesus did not choose His 12 Apostles based on what they were, but based on what they could potentially become. To Him they were like unexplored mountains with unmind caves filled with undiscovered riches. John himself who was seeing heaven from a mountain top was a hot headed son of thunder who wanted to call fire down from heaven to consume those who did not conform to his ideal. Jesus chose this man to be a disciple. This looked like chosing Mt. St. Helens for a children's theme park, but Jesus saw the potential of this hot head, and John became the great Apostle of love.
Jesus was always going up into the mountains to pray. Most all of the references to mountains in the Gospels are of Jesus going there alone, or with a few disciples. Jesus was the main mountain climber of the New Testament. He saw life from a mountain perspective, and he saw people that way as well. He saw their hidden potential to climb far higher than where they were. We are to have the mind of Christ Paul said, and that means a mountain top perspective on life and people.
The best poem has not yet been written.
The best song has not yet been sung.
The best drum has not yet been smitten.
The best bell has not yet been rung.
In a mountainous world the best is always a hidden potential. I was so impressed by Thompson Road Canyon but I drove and hour out of my way to go through it three times. The first time I went through it I was young and had never seen a mountain before. I was so fearful that I could not enjoy it. I had to hold the steering wheel with all my attention focused on the road. This last time I could enjoy the awesome work of God and man. God made the mountains, but man blasted a path through these mountain cliffs and made a road through this solid rock. Only God can make the mountains, but only man would make a road through them.
The combination of the creation of God and the creation of man is a double awesomeness that we see God Himself appreciates, for in this description of the eternal Holy City we have the Revelation in verse24-"The kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it." And in verse 26, "The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it." All of the marvels of history made by man are not junk to God. He made man in His image with the potential of creating wondrous things, and God will treasure these man made creations forever. Just as parents love to see their children become creative, and they put their works of art on the wall or shelf for display, so God will decorate the eternal city with the glorious works of men.
If you never travel to all the wonders of the world of man's creativity, do not feel bad , for you will see them all in the New Jerusalem. Anything worth seeing will be a part of the enjoyment of our eternal environment. The golden age is not behind us, but ahead in that golden city John saw from the mountain top. Sometimes Christians get pessimistic and wonder what the future holds. What will it be like for their children and grandchildren? If you see life from the mountain perspective you can say amen to the poet who wrote:
"Mourn not for the vanquished ages
With their great historic men,
Who dealt in history's pages,
And live in the poetic pen.
For the greatest days are before us,
And the world is yet to see
The noblest work of this whole earth
Is the men and women that are to be."
The mountain perspective makes you optimistic about God, and about what He can do in an with your life. After you drive through Iowa, South Dakota, and Nebraska on the interstate you have forgotten that God is a master artist, for even a child can make a flat mud pie. But when you hit the mountains of Colorado your perspective is radically changed, and you have it thrust into your soul that God is the artist par-excellence.
"The gorgeous grandeur;
The breath-taking beauty;
The gigantic gorges into the depths;
The piercing pinnacles that penetrate the clouds!
The endless panorama of rocks and trees!
Picture postcard settings in every direction!"
These scenes liberate you from all doubt: God is indeed the master Architect and Artist. Not only is God magnified by the mountains, but so is the potential of man. The mountains are a visual reminder of what God can do in any life. It is amazing to see the trees that cover the mountains like a garment. They seem to grow out of solid rock. A seed falls into a crevice with a small bit of soil, and it grows into a majestic tree right on the side of a rocky cliff. God made life in the mountains with such tenacity that is is determined to hang on and be beautiful for His glory regardless of the limitations.
So often we, as God's children, feel so inadequate. We lack resources and opportunity, and gifts, and so we focus on our limitations. The mountain perspective will change our focus and help us see God does not need a lot to work with to produce beauty. He makes life to flourish in hard places. So if you thing you are bound by limits and have but a mere speck of soil to grow in and no support from your environment-go to the mountains and see what God is doing all the time with that kind of meager resource and hostile environment. Whatever you have is enough for God to us to add beauty to life.
The point is, John saw heaven's glory from a mountain top, and all of us can enjoy that revelation with John, but we can also see that God is always revealing His best from the mountain top, and the more we can see all of life from the mountain perspective, the greater will be our optimism about the future, and about our potential to be used for the glory of God and His kingdom.
Leonardo DaVinci was inspired by the mountains to do creative works. William Douglas of the Supreme Court aid he never knew a mountain climber who ws a mean or dishonest man. He felt the mountains had a very positive influence on man's character. All the great men of the Bible seemed to be mountain climbers. They went up on mountains to confront God and be motivated to do His will. I have only climbed one mountain myself, and it was a mere hill compared to real mountain climbing, but it was a terribly exhausting experience for which I was not in shape. I can sweat just reading about Edward Whymper, the English artist, who tried to climb the Matterhorn in 1861,62,63, and after 7 failed attempts, tried on the 8the time in 1865. With 7 men he finally made it and they became the first men to conquer that mighty peak. They looked down and saw tiny dots moving up the slopes. They had just beaten a party of Italians. Four of the seven died on the way down. Coming down can be even more dangerous than climbing up.
Sir Lester Stephen said, "I believe that the ascent of mountains forms an essential chapter in the complete duty of man, and that it is wrong to leave any district without setting foot on its highest peak." He meant it literally as a fanatical mountain climber, but if you take it spiritually he has a point. It is a Christian obligation to see life from the mountain perspective and see it from the highest peak, for only then can you have the mind of Christ, who sees all from the heights. The hills are indeed alive with music from that highest perspective. In Isa. 44:23 we read, "Sing for joy, o heavens, for the Lord has done this: shout aloud, o earth beneath, burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees, for the Lord has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory iln Israel." In 49:13 he says again, "Burst into song, o mountains, for the Lord comforts his people."
We are to join the mountain in everlasting praise, and strive to ever see all of life from that high perspective where we are motivated to walk with our Savior on a higher level. May God help us to feel what the poet conveys in these words:
"I'm going by the upper road,
For that still holds the sun.
I'm climbing through nights pastures
Where the stormy rivers run.
If you should think to find me
In my old dark abode,
You'll find this writing on the door,
He's on the upper road."
May God find us all there ever climbing to see life from the mountain perspective.