A few weeks ago my family spent some time in Colorado to celebrate Christmas and have a change of pace for the holidays. I love to travel, I love to experience new places and see new things. Going to the mountains is something I looked forward to for months. I live in Austin, Texas. Central Texas is called the hill country, but hills in Texas are nothing compared to hills in Colorado.
There is something special and majestic about mountains. Mountains are rugged and heavy, and yet somehow ethereal and spiritual at the same time. They invoke a sense of awe and wonder. Mountains have a certain beauty that makes my heart long for the transcendent. The crisp mountain air and the stark features of rock against a clear sky ignites my senses and makes me feel alive. I can see why God took His people to a mountain to make Himself known (Exodus 19). It also doesn’t surprise me that Jesus says that if His followers didn’t worship Him the rocks would (Luke 19:40). Taking in the beauty of the mountains, the rocks really do declare the glory of Christ.
I think the reason that the mountains make my heart come alive in the way they do is because they tell a story. The mountains communicate about the God that created them, and they communicate about mankind as the observer.
Mountains Communicate About God
Romans 1:20 tells us that God’s “invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (ESV). Creation serves to tell mankind about the God that created both us and it. When God created everything, He made it like a divine conversation, where we as image bearers of the creator (Genesis 1:27) are meant to display God’s rule and character to creation, as creation teaches us about God’s attributes, creativity, and glory. These are a few of the ways that the mountains communicate about God:
- They speak to God’s unchanging nature. As I stood looking up at these seemingly permanent, unchangeable structures of nature, I found myself thinking about how centuries, or more like millennia, of water and wind have carved the very slopes that we are sliding down like ants on an anthill. And I thought to myself, even when these mountains are leveled like an anthill under a water hose, forgotten by time, God will remain unchanged. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). The God that created the mountains is eternal and will be on His throne forever.
- They speak of God’s strength. I could not lift a single boulder that makes up the landscape of this massive mountain range. God established them by His strength (Psalm 65:6). Our God is a powerful Creator who shaped the world by His Word. The mountains are a strong stone reminder of His power and ability.
- They speak of God’s transcendent nature. In a culture that is “post-truth,” we are ever more desirous of something firm, something that encompasses all. God is the only One whose meaning is derived from within Himself. He is the only One who has existed for eternity, and He is the Creator from whom all creation finds its design and purpose. God is Lord, He stands above all, and He transcends all. “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36 ESV).
- They speak of God’s creativity and eye for beauty. God didn’t have to create, He is completely satisfied within Himself (Acts 17:25). He could have created a world that is plain and utilitarian, but instead He created a world that is vibrant and diverse. He could have taken us away from the beauty we tainted in the garden, yet he gives us glimpses of His beauty and excellence that reminds us like Romans 1 that creation attests to His invisible attributes.
Mountains Communicate About Man
- Humans are temporary. If mountains remind us that God is unchanging and eternal, then they also remind us that man is not. The mountains have been standing tall above the landscape since long before my time on the earth began, and it is likely that they will continue to stand long after I have gone to be with the Creator. Life is short. The Bible says all our days are like a handbreadth, and our lifetime is nothing before God (Psalm 39:5). For those that do not know God, this is depressing and tragic, but for those who know and trust in the person and work of Jesus, this life is a stepping stone to eternity in joy with Him.
- Humans are small. Standing at the bottom of the slopes and watching the skiers come down the mountains, it was amazing how small and insignificant they looked against the massive scale of the landscape. The size of mountains gives perspective on the size of man. We in our self-centered hubris make mankind to be this large, powerful center around which everything in the universe turns. Sometimes it’s nice to have a reminder that man is merely a small part of the world, and we are not the reason for its existence. It also reminds us that the God that created them dwarfs the mountains, and even more-so dwarfs man.
- Humans are weak and dependent. People, guys especially, don’t like this one. Mankind is hell-bent (literally) on making itself God. The reality is that we are made to be totally dependent on God (and actually are since He is the one sustaining all of creation – Hebrews 1:3). We are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8). Grace is the unearned, undeserved, gift of God. “God made Him who had no sin to be sin so that we could be made the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV). Salvation is a work of God, and we are made to live dependent on Him in everything.
- Humans are made to desire God. We are made to desire something more, something eternal, something beautiful and all-satisfying. The majesty and other-ness of the mountains should point us to the majesty and other-ness of God. Our hearts our wired for the transcendent, for the eternal. We long to return to the glory of God, and I think that the awe-stirring nature of creation awakens that desire. The fullness of the glory of God is revealed in Jesus (Colossians 2:9), and His gift of grace is the only way that we can return to right-standing with God and spend eternity in His presence.
As with the stones of remembering in 1 Samuel 27 which testify to God’s help and faithfulness, and Jesus’ statement that if his people did not worship him the very stones would, the mountains remind me of God’s faithfulness, worthiness, and glory. As I behold and consider the glory of God, I am at the same time humbled, rightly, before Him. I am grateful for the mountains as they remind me of the God that created them, and I long for the day “that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21 ESV).