Mountains Ahead

Here in Mississippi we do not have any mountains. Well, I say that, but there are some that are called mountains that may not really be mountains in the truest sense of the word. Blue Mountain, the home of the Baptist college of the same name, oftentimes takes on an unusual look of being a mountain, even a blue mountain, when the atmospheric conditions are just right and the haze is appropriate. You can imagine that it is a blue mountain, though it is at best a blue hill.  The one mountain, the highest point in Mississippi, just over 800 feet above sea level is Mount Woodall up near Iuka but it, too, would not be ranked among the world’s great mountain peaks.

For me, growing up in Mississippi, it was a treat when we would load up and travel up to northwest Arkansas to see my grandparents in Fort Smith. There we would get to see what we thought were real mountains. At the time I had never seen the Rockies or the beautiful Smokies, so the foothills of the Ozarks were gigantic to me. As a kid visiting with my grandparents and driving up into the mountains I can remember looking down the road while heading up a mountainside and thinking this is incredible and what a steep incline. My grandmother would often point out to those of us who were flatlanders from Mississippi that the mountain is not as steep as it looks when you get closer to it.

She was right, and time after time we would come to one of those mountain roads that was heading up to the skies only to find when we got there that it was not nearly as steep as it looked from a distance. I have never forgotten either the instructions my grandmother gave me nor the experience we had when we would get closer and closer to the mountain peak only to find that it was not nearly as steep as we thought it would be.

Many a time I have thought that what she taught me in a car traveling into the Ozarks mountainside is true of so many things in life. The mountains that seem so huge and unscalable seem to somewhat flatten out when you get closer, and that is a valuable thing to learn. Maybe you are at a point or will face some experience with a mountain in your future that seems to be beyond anything that you will be able to climb and you’re not sure what you can do or where to turn.

Let me give you just two or three thoughts about the mountains that may be before you. One may have to do with stewardship. It is not unusual to run into someone and be talking to a sincere, growing disciple of Jesus who is struggling with stewardship and the possibility of starting to give to the Lord week after week, 10% the tithe. I can tell you that if you have never tithed, it is not a dollar experience but a faith experience and you will have to trust God for you to take that step of obedience to even begin to tithe.

I know it looks insurmountable, but you can find dozens of people around you that have had the same experience I have had and that is when you take a step of faith in obedience to God’s will, He will take a step of amazing, miracle-working events to enable you to get up the mountain.  That’s why the Lord says in Malachi 3: Try Me and trust Me. Do what I ask you to do and watch what I will do for you. For many people in our churches, stewardship, regular giving — especially obedient giving of the 10% — is almost an unscalable event, but God true to His word will help you. You can do it.

A second area that maybe the Lord is placing before you is the experience of soul winning. The Bible says that he that winneth souls is wise but for many of our folks, solid Christian people they may be, they find it very difficult to share their faith with someone else and seek to win them to the wonderful, life-giving Jesus. It’s a mountain whose peak seems to reach into the clouds, but you can do it. If you are faithful to listen to Him as He speaks to you and to obey His voice, you will find that mountain almost evaporates and almost becomes beautiful flatland because God is with you.

Maybe there is someone God has placed on your heart and you have been struggling for days if not weeks as to how you can go about sharing your love for Jesus with them. You can stop struggling because the Lord is with you. The next opportunity He gives you, just simply let Him lead you and the conversation will wrap itself around their hearts and you can help reach a soul for Jesus.

A third area is one that the Apostle Paul faced and that is with the difficulties of life or suffering. It was Paul’s thorn in the flesh that bothered him so much. He asked God, pleaded with God, to take it away on three occasions. God left the thorn with him, but this is what God added, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9). What God was saying to Paul is whatever you face is not bigger than My grace. What a comfort and what a challenge for us to stop worrying about climbing the giant mountain called suffering that may be before us.

Everyone suffers to some degree sometimes in life. This was a huge problem for the Apostle Paul and it may be for you even today, but you can lean upon the Lord and while He may not have taken away the problem, the suffering, or the pain, He has come to give amazing and wonderful and sufficient grace. God is never late in delivering His grace but neither is He early. He is on time, ready to bless and embolden you, and give you strength.

Even if you’re facing a trial that seems to be a mountain that cannot be scaled, trust God.  Realize that He has grace sufficient for what you are going to face, and while He may not take away all the problems, He will put in all the grace you need. Whatever mountains are in your life, sitting out there on the horizon waiting for you to arrive, fine. Trust God. Lean upon His strong arms, seek His face and His grace, and climb on. He waits to carry you up that mountain and by the time the two of you arrive at the top you will think to yourself that wasn’t nearly as difficult as you thought it would be, because He is with you.

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Jim Futral

Executive Director-Treasurer