Whenever I am in the mountains for any extended period, I find myself contemplating two things: Lord, what do you have to teach me about yourself? Why is it that so many people worship the creation and not the Creator?
Two very different questions!
I’ll address the second one first because I believe it leads to the first. I see many people who hike and camp in the mountains who love the outdoors, the quiet, the beauty and the majesty of this area of North Carolina. But that is as far as it goes. They seem satisfied with what they see and have no desire or interest to find out who is behind this glorious gift they’re enjoying.
Some of these hikers worship nature itself, the creation being their god. Others think it was all part of the big bang and merely appreciate what that event has left behind. I wonder what sustains them when they are not in the mountains or in the great outdoors. Mother Earth is not friendly. She is capricious, unloving, and downright cruel in many instances, so there is nothing life sustaining about that belief. The same may be said of some cosmic force that rules the universe, which cannot be understood or befriended, although there are plenty of false religions that try.
Because I am a spiritual person, I find these belief systems empty and unsatisfying. And I am left a little sad because they are missing the essence of life. The Author of life. Which brings me to the first question. What can the Lord teach us about Himself and ourselves while spending time in His marvelous creation? A lot.
The mountains, even at the height of five thousand feet, which was the height of Huckleberry Knob, are so majestic they literally take my breath away. This particular hike was along an old road, so it was much easier underfoot than others I’ve taken where you have to pick your way around rocks and roots that invade your route. Much of this trail wound through old growth forests and meadows. The first meadow gave you a glimpse of the higher knob and the delight to come. Bright fall wildflowers put on a royal display of purple, gold and white once I reached the top. Standing there, I had a 360-degree view of the Smokey Mountains, the landscape toward Knoxville, Tennessee and across the state of North Carolina. Different mountain ranges encircled me in every direction with a lovely display of low-lying clouds just above their ridgelines. They may not be as majestic as the Rocky Mountains, but they carry their own gravitas through their ancient history and eye-filling presence.
These mountains are not forgiving, but their Creator is. They are truly majestic, but not as glorious in majesty as their Creator. They exhibit survival of the fittest, not grace and mercy or faithfulness. Nor do they exhibit love, salvation, or redemption. While we may enjoy them now, someday soon, the Lord will roll up the sky and earth and replace it with a new heaven and earth that is eternal. Even the sheer majesty and beauty of what I saw is ephemeral. Unless you know the Creator God, you don’t realize that the new heaven and earth will be even more glorious than what we can see from the top of these mountains.
We can learn a lot about our Lord in the mountains. But you will find true riches by reading what He has given us, the Word of God. This is where we discover God’s deep love for us, His faithfulness toward us, His grace and mercy for us when we rebel and sin against Him. The Word of God, not nature, is the only place you will find out about your need for redemption and the incalculable price Jesus paid to give it to us. The Word of God is also the only place you will find how to obtain eternal life. The creation points directly to the Creator. But you must take the time to get to know, depend on and appreciate the Author of your life to really possess what He desires you to have.
“They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.”
Romans 1:25 NIV