Mountain-born, prairie-raised, I spent many summers staring out the window as we drove back through the mountains to visit grandparents. The prairies were lovely, but it was the mountains that truly captivated me. As soon as I could see the foothills off in the distance, I knew I'd be safe soon. The mountains' protective walls would rise around me; I would imagine myself nestled in their folds, hidden and comforted and perfectly safe.
And yet there was a terrifying thrill about driving through the mountains, too. Rock face on one side, cliff on the other, sign in front reminding me that any second now, a huge chunk of rock could tumble down the mountain and flatten our car beneath it. My young imagination would always take off as I considered this. Would any of us survive if a giant piece of mountain fell on our car? Would we swerve to avoid the rock and crash over the cliff instead? Would it hurt?
Safety and danger. Somehow the two feelings never seemed to be in opposition to me. They were both there as we drove through, the mountain walls both comforting and terrifying as they rose around us.
I've always felt closest to God in the mountains.
The mountains seem to be the perfect reflection of a Holy God: I rest in His comforting protection and it never feels in opposition to the incredible power that He wields. He is at once safe and dangerous - or perhaps more accurately stated, "Safe? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you." "He's wild, you know. Not a tame lion." (Thank you, Mr. Lewis, for always writing it down so perfectly.)
Wild but good. I can trust that.
Driving through the mountains, each one is magnificent. I turn a corner and another one rises up in front of me, bigger and more beautiful than the last. Just when I think it can't get any better, I turn another corner and there it is, proving me wrong, leaving me undone with its untamed beauty. And each so different, too. Soft, jagged, tall, slanted, covered, bare, and then the sun hits one just right and how do you breathe through such beauty?
So has been my journey with God. Just when I've wrapped my mind around one facet of His glorious Self, a new one rises up in front of me and I am breathless. Could it be true? Could He be this Good? Could such Love be mine? God is the mountains, never ending, never changing and yet always new because He is far too big to fit neatly into my understanding. I turn a corner and there He is again and it's never what I expected.
But maybe if I grew up in the mountains, each one would become like an old friend, each rock face, each crevice, each valley and peak and everything else intimately know, nothing new to discover. The same each day, no surprise waiting around the corner.
Then? I guess that's when you head out to the vastness of the life-rich prairies...
or the wonder of the Badlands...
or the endless ocean...
because God's glory is everywhere, never changing and yet always new.
Photo credits: Author. All photos (except last) from our recent trip back home.