Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Mighty Mountains

My An Arkie's Faith column from the June 6, 2018, issue of The Mena Star.

The sun beat down relentlessly with a sweltering heat. Even though I was sitting under my pop up canopy, beads of sweat ran down my forehead into my eyes and trickled down my back. Despite the shade, the heat still lingered. The sultry air was stifling and oppressive. I was dripping with sweat from my head to my toe.

As storms clouds started rolling in, I hoped for a break in the oppressive heat, but the clouds only increased an already suffocating humidity. The air was heavy with the dampness of a coming storm. Because we were under a severe thunderstorm watch, I secured my merchandise the best I could and lowered my canopy to try and protect it from the rain that was heading our way.

I joined the crowd behind me to watch the Flying Houndz Frizbee Trick Dog Show. Jeff and his dogs did a great job entertaining the audience with jumping tricks, aerial acrobatics, and catching frisbees. The crowd, and especially the kids, were excited and amazed at the performances of the dogs. During the show, the rain started with a slow pitter-patter. Jeff shortened the performance because of the rain.

The rain soon began to fall so heavily that I was soaked before I could get to shelter under the large arts and crafts tent. From the shelter of the tent, I could see heavy rain, sheets of water falling from dark skies. For a short time, hail was mixed in with the rain. Then almost as quickly as it had started, the rain stopped. Within a few minutes, the sun was shining again.

As I was drying off my canopy and getting set up again, I couldn’t help but notice that most of the festival goers were gone. I couldn’t blame them; I hadn’t enjoyed getting soaked. With the rain over and the temperature a few degrees cooler, I thought that the crowds would come back to enjoy the festival, and especially the free concert that opened with Alaina Blake & Dylan Hawf performing. The audience enjoyed Alaina’s warm and beautiful vocals paired with Dylan’s masterful fiddle work, but the crowd was sparse. The rain kept many people away.

At 8 pm the headliner, National Park Radio, took the stage. As I listened to the incredibly talented band play, I was saddened that so many people were missing the opportunity to hear a free concert by a great band. One song that they sang seemed very poignant. I loved the lyrics and asked the band’s singer/songwriter, Stefan Szabo, for permission to use them. He graciously permitted me to quote the song and even sent me the lyrics.

The song is titled, “Mighty Mountains.” It reminded me of times in my life that I have been too easily discouraged. In the song, Stefan writes; “That crooked road seemed all too steep. It stretched beyond what I could see.” But the song is not about giving in to life’s problems. It is about a positive outlook and the determination to not let life pass you by. The song continues, “But at last I saw the future; Every moment that could be. Oh, I found that life was waiting there for me. Only for a moment I'd forgotten why we came. Not unlike my father mighty mountains call my name. Oh the explanations and excuses we could find. But unlike my father those mighty mountains I will climb.”

All of us are faced with mountains. Sometimes there are mountains of discouragement. Sometimes there are mountains of hopes, dreams, and aspirations. All too often we have “explanations and excuses” for why we can’t climb those mountains. But God says that you can. In Psalm 18:33 (NLT) David  says, “He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights.” You can climb that mountain.

Stefan says that some of the writing he is the proudest of is the last verse of the song. “It's strength we find when we are weak. It's faith that moves the tallest peak. And love that lasts for long after we're gone. But few can truly know the cost. And all who wander are not lost. For love will lead the tired and troubled home. 'Cause at last I see the future. Every moment that can be. And I've found that life is waiting here for me.”

The day's events left me thinking about how easily we are distracted. A quick cloudburst can keep us from climbing mighty mountains and receiving the blessings that are there for us. I was truly blessed by the music of National Park Radio, and I wonder how many people missed out on a wonderful evening of music just because it had rained a few hours earlier.

Gentle Reader, Don’t miss out on the blessings that God has for you because you are too timid to attempt to climb mighty mountains. If you never climb the mountain, you will never be able to see the mountaintop view. God says, “do not be afraid. I am with you. Do not be terrified. I am your God. I will make you strong and help you.” Isaiah 41:10 (NIRV) He wants to climb mighty mountains with you.

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