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Faith Imagined: Moving Mountains

Faith Imagined

Alisa Hope Wagner: Christian Writer

November 28, 2010

Moving Mountains

“Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them'" (Mark 11.23 NIV).

Like any great writer or orator, Jesus chose His words carefully. He paints an awesome picture of faith in the above promise, but I think we miss so much when we don't explore why Jesus would choose the metaphor "mountain." If a mountain were to fall into the sea, it would be a natural disaster of monstrous proportions, destroying everything in its wake. Since I don't think that Jesus really wanted Christians calling mountains into the sea, I have to believe that He chose this word for a specific reason. As we dig for understanding in His Word, so much treasure comes up that it's hard to take it all in.

The symbol of a mountain is used many times in the Old and New Testament. God's glory appears on the mountain and people experience supernatural phenomena; but I've noticed that most of the time, the people have to climb up the mountain to be a part of what God is doing.

Abraham climbed a mountain to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22.2). Moses saw a burning bush (Exodus 3.1), received God's laws (Exodus 24.12), and saw God Himself (Exodus 33.21-22) on a mountain. Elijah heard the voice of God on a mountain (1 Kings 19). Isaiah and Micah both promise that the Lord's Temple will be established on a mountain and God's people will make their way to it (Isaiah 2 1-5) (Micah 4.1-5). Jesus led Peter, James and John up a mountain and transfigured (Matthew 17.1-11).

So many times we want God to move our mountain, but from reading Scripture, I think God wants us to climb it first. I quickly researched the process of climbing a mountain, and it is not easy. Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world. In order to ascend it, you must sacrifice a lot of money and time, find guides who are knowledgeable and go through a strenuous and lengthy acclimation process.

Mount Everest is 8,848 meters above sea level, and anything above 8,000 meters is called the "death zone," because one cannot survive for more than two or three days in it. Complete oxygen saturation in the body is impossible, even when taking three times as many breaths. Most people bring portable oxygen to ease the stress on the body. The wind, weather, freezing temperature and slick ice all add to the implausibility of reaching the top.

When climbers start out, they must move slowly so that their bodies can assimilate to the ascension. At sea level our bodies have 98% - 99% oxygen saturation. At the base camp of Mount Everest (5,380 meters) the oxygen saturation is already at around 85% and there is still a mountain left to climb! In order to acclimate to the altitude, climbers will "climb high, sleep low." I find this interesting because it sounds like wasted time, but the climbers push their bodies during the day and retreat to lower altitudes during the night to help their bodies get used to the height.

When we imagine mountains in our spiritual lives, we think of Exodus 15.17: "You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain of your inheritance—the place, LORD, you made for your dwelling, the sanctuary, Lord, your hands established." God plants our inheritance or His promises on the mountaintops. Often times we beg God to fulfill His promises to us; yet if He did, we would surely die. We will NEVER get acclimated to His anointing for our lives if we don't climb up the mountain--the climb is what prepares us for the summit!

Many people wonder why God would put His promises on mountaintops if mountains are so difficult to climb. Why wouldn't He make it easier on us and simply lay our promises at our feet? The one human condition that robs us of serving God is serving self. If the promises were strewn at our feet, we would stay in our self-idolatry state. Instead, God plants His promises on His mountain at His feet (Psalm 132.7-8), so we can have an encounter with Him. This earth, our souls and life in general were created to know Him; because in forming a personal relationship with our Creator, we find our purpose, our joy and our true love.

How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
“Your God reigns!”

- Isaiah 52.7 NIV

When we finally reach the mountaintop, our own feet become beautiful because we have finally discovered the meaning of our existence. We are to proclaim God's peace and salvation to the world. We are to use His promises for our lives to tell the world about Christ--any other reason would be idolatrous. We are to yell from the mountaintops that God created us because of His glory, Jesus sacrificed Himself for our sins so we can commune with a perfect God, and the Holy Spirit lives in each of us, guiding us through the mountains and valleys of our lives.

The climb to the top changes us. We sacrifice all we have and are then filled with God's glory because now our emptied selves have room for Him. And when we finally make it to the pinnacle, our faith causes the mountain to fall into the sea! Jesus gives us a beautiful promise: the highest point of that mountain -- a place where we can't survive on our own -- supernaturally becomes sea level. We can now function at 99% oxygen saturation on a mountaintop that we could never have survived before we started our journey up.

But don't get too comfortable on that sea-level mountain for long. God will place another mountain in your horizon. Don't worry, though, I'm sure He'll let you rest before He expects you to gather your climbing gear. And just remember, "climb high, sleep low." God will give you rest on the mountain, and He'll never push you beyond what you are capable of doing.

The climb may take years, but Jesus never mentioned a timetable when He promised the mountain would be moved. Take a good look at the mountaintop before you start your ascension; you won't be able to see it until you make it to the "death zone," and God supernaturally throws the summit into sea level for you. You'll have to press forward by faith, knowing that God gave you a vision of the mountaintop and planted your inheritance at His feet.

* Mountain research from Team Everest 03 and Wikepedia.

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Blogger The Unknowngnome said...

Wow! Alisa this is positively moving! Thank you.

I enjoyed the research you put into this. The whole piece is a beautiful blend of the physical and spiritual.

And yes, as in my own personal case, the climb does take years, but I have faith in my Guide.

12:06 AM  
Blogger CC said...

Hi Alisa, I have not had a visit to your blog in so long as internet connection and time have both escaped me the last 6 months. Thank you for this post, God used it to really speak to me. Many times since I began this journey I have likened it to climbing a mountain. Hard work, sometimes I thought I would not make it, but throughout, knowing that God is using my mountain to prepare me for His works. Thank you, so glad to be back. Be blessed.

4:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alisa, You are right about the promises being strewn at our feet. We need to get away from our self idolatry before we can truly climb the mountain and experience God's power and anointing.
What a great article... I need to come back and read it again and assimilate more.. I just woke up.
God is so good. Thank you.

5:36 AM  
Anonymous Ginger said...

This post is wonderful. Your research really makes a difference. Who knew--"climb high, sleep low"?

9:12 AM  
Blogger Joanne Sher said...

What an incredible post - gonna remember this one for a LONG time. LOVE it.

9:28 AM  
Blogger Together We Save said...

Thanks for sharing such a wonderful post!

2:37 PM  
Anonymous Renee Ann said...

It's so true that if the Lord laid the blessings at my feet, I wouldn't strive to follow Him. And I'm sure I'd take Him for granted and demand more and more. My sinful heart is like that! It does take effort and planning and sacrifice to climb--good comparison with making effort to follow God . . . I was entertaining the idea of skipping my Bible study tonight because it's cold and dark and inconvenient to leave my home. But now that I've read this, I'm reminded of why I've got to go!

5:14 PM  
Blogger Wanda said...

Awesome word Alisa! So much going through my mind as I read this, the Holy Spirit just bringing things to my remembrance. It's the climb that processes us to stand upon the pinnacle. I think this is one I'm going to have to chew on for a while. Blessings to you.

7:15 PM  
Blogger Toyin O. said...

Thanks God I will be moving every mnountain by his grace. If he says, then I believe it.

7:23 PM  
Blogger Kristen Torres-Toro said...

I love the mountain top! The view, the journey, the thrill of being there. But nothing grows on the mountain. The valley is verdant, not the sheer cliffs. That's something that gets me going whenever I long for the mountain top!

8:52 PM  
Blogger Sharon Kirby said...


Thank you for this message tonight.

My husband and I just spent five days in the mountains. We were just high enough that we had to "acclimate" to the altitude just a little bit the first day. After that, we were OK.

As you have pointed out, that's often how spiritual climbing happens, too. We have to "acclimate" to new heights. And then, keep climbing. God will give us the strength, the "oxygen" of His Spirit, to keep us going.

I've got a few "mountains" that I am trusting God to move. But for now, I'm asking Him for help with the climbing, a vision of the summit, and the assurance that my inheritance lies just up ahead...


9:03 PM  
Blogger Stuff could always be worse said...

Yes I agree, these mountains keep appearing. They have to be climbed.

9:19 PM  
Blogger Beth.. One Blessed Nana said...

oh, wow. i love this. 'the climb to the top changes us'. that just really spoke to my heart and what God is doing in my life right now. I needed this post today! It was just what God ordered and I am so glad that He used you to minister to me.

Thanks Alisa - I always get blessed here.

10:14 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

I really enjoyed reading this! The concept of the use of mountains in Scripture is really interesting. I don't think I've ever taken a look at that before. God's Word is so amazing! Thanks for bringing a unique perspective on this topic. I always enjoy reading your writing, Alisa. It was a timely read for me!

10:16 PM  
Blogger Leah @ Point Ministries said...

The climb up our mountains builds our faith in God. Then when those valleys come, our faith is there to stabilize us as we walk through those valleys.

Great thoughts, Alisa.


6:36 AM  
Blogger Warren Baldwin said...

I've never thought of writing an article on "mountains" in the Bible, but what a great idea! Your post has sparked other thoughts. Moses met with and even ate with God on the mountain top. Maybe that is why we hear of "Mountain Top" experiences - not as a place to live, but as to be charged and readied to go back down "into the valley" of real life.

Good post with great food for thought.


8:22 AM  
Blogger Carlos said...

Great post. It is amazing how God works with themes of reference across miles. Our pastor just preached a message entitled "Give Me My Mountian." I really liked you bringing up the point about "climbing high and resting low." If more people understood this there would be less burn out and frustration. Great job once again :)

10:49 AM  
Blogger Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Alisa -

I'm reading Mark 11 in my morning devotions.

Thank you for the climbing metaphor. It gave me much food for thought.

Susan :)

8:13 PM  
Blogger Deborah Ann said...

That God may want us to climb our mountain first before removing it...that is thought provoking! Excellent teaching here...

2:31 PM  
Blogger Alene said...

I'm standing look at a big mountain in front of me, realizing I've been on sea level too long. How do you climb this mountain, I ask? One scary step at a time. Love you friend.

5:02 PM  
Blogger Jean said...

Thanks for the leg-up, Alissa.


9:37 PM  
Blogger lioneagle said...

Hi Alisa -

I much enjoyed this mountain knowledge and the spiritual implications.

You expressed much that is encouraging in its truth.

Thank you, Alisa, for sharing this "airy" piece.

8:11 AM  
Blogger Connie Arnold said...

This is a great post with a wonderful perspective! Thank you, Alisa.

2:28 PM  
Blogger Toyin O. said...

Hi Alisa,

Hope you are having an awesome day. I just want to thank you for visiting my blog; and your kind and gracious comment. To God be the glory. Have a blessed week!

3:41 PM  
Blogger May said...

Amen Sister, I also think God wants us to climb it first. What a powerful and moving message.

9:13 AM  
Blogger Bernadine said...

Alisa, so many times I read scripture without really digging deeper to see what the Holy Spirit is saying. Thank you for inspiring me to go beyond what I read to seek His truth. Hope you had a great weekend.

6:49 PM  
Blogger MTJ said...

Hi Alisa,

I have been meditating on this aspect of my relationship with God; moving to a new spiritual level.

You have eloquently captured my thoughts and expressed them in a way I could not have.

God does want us to ascend upward in our relationship. I believe there is a greater sense of gratitude for who He is and what He is doing.

Blessings and peace.


9:19 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Thank you for this reminder this morning.

Delighted to meet you today. Hope you don't mind if I splash around a bit to get to know you. This looks like a refreshing spot to drench myself in some serious goodness.


9:03 AM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

This was so inspirational and informative, Alisa! Thank you for the encouragement and challenge. I had no idea about all of those strenuous details regarding Mt. Everest. I only knew it was extremely difficult.
It is no coincidence, as you say, that God chose to use a mountain for his illustrations of faith. Thanks, again!

2:19 PM  
Blogger Joanne@ Blessed... said...

Alisa, this is God-inspired writing my friend.

LOVE it!

I just re-tweeted it and am now heading over to post it on my FB page.

Sure hope you are putting a stamp on this one and sending it out to a few of your favorite magazines. I think you shold try "In Touch" for sure.

2:54 PM  
Blogger Terri Tiffany said...

Thank your this wonderful description of how we have so many mountains to climb but He is faithful. Been climbing now for 3 1/2 years and only recently can I see the a path to the top. We never know how long it will take to climb until the next, like you said. I figured this one would only take months.

3:07 PM  
Blogger Melissa Campbell said...

It is on the mountain that we need His grace most--to keep our feet from slipping. Thank you for your refreshing point of view! Blessings.

12:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This reminds me of "Hinds Feet in High Places" - journeying closer and closer to God. Kenneth Hagin wrote a book about Faith, where you speak your faith to move your mountain. That changed my life - what words come out of my mouth - faith words for faithless words.

However, we cannot forget the journey through the challenges. I think our kids miss so much in their education because they do not read the stories of real heroes who face the challenge and through nobleness prevail!

Perfect post for these challenging times.

7:35 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Smith said...

Just beautiful! And memorable. Thanks, Alisa!

5:30 AM  
Blogger Michael Manning said...

Years ago, while visiting a friend going through a painful divorce he never wanted in Colorado, I experienced the difficulty of breathing at a higher altitude in the mountains. So, I relate to your story. Often, our journeys seem clouded by mystery in terms of our limited understanding of why we struggle so long to fulfill His calling to be our best. This post was very helpful, Alisa! :)

11:40 PM  

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