Mountain Song

“We all go up on the mountain and turn into wilder versions of ourselves. It’s why we go: to be unleashed from everything that has a hold on us.”

(Jilllian Lukiwski)

I’m knee-deep in one of the busiest seasons I’ve ever known. Deadlines, responsibilities, new chances to minister love to the neglected. While the load is sweet and necessary, it creates an awareness in me of my ache for Jesus. Specifically, my need to be alone with Him and cared for by Him. I feel a pull to the mountain.

And the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day, because on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not approach the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain is to be put to death. They are to be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on them. No person or animal shall be permitted to live.’ Only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they approach the mountain.”

(Exodus 19:10-13)

Though I grew up in the flatlands of Oklahoma, I’m at home on mountains—one in particular. Sinai has become a refuge for my rule-keeping soul. It’s where God shows up in pomp and circumstance, fire and cloud and those beautiful words written on stone. Consecration? I love it! Fresh clothes? Yes, please. I’m all about those standards for cleanliness. And the whole “don’t come too close or you’ll die” bit? What a fantastic way to live for someone who fears actual relationship!

Sinai is heaven for Pharisees. A checklist? Great! Now we know how to win! Or for those of us with identity issues, now we know how to stay out of trouble! We can keep God happy but not get too close.

God shows Himself on this mountain. He is large and impressive. Sovereign. Present but slightly removed. Holy. Clear about what He expects.

I’ve camped out on Mount Sinai for as long as I can remember. The law has guarded me, guided me, into a knowledge of the holy. But Sinai comes with the weight of needing to get it right. Something unfurls within.

And so I feel a pull to another mountain.

This mountain is wild, obscure, and much more uncomfortable than Sinai. It’s Calvary, the birthing place of grace. Here I’m invited to shed the expectations and requirements and boundaries, to walk about with God in me. Can you even fathom it? I want to burst. The childhood of rules has been left behind. I’m stepping into my full birthright as an adult, grace and freedom in every footprint. I lose my need to be right. I look around for the fear I’ve grown accustomed to, but it can’t hike this close to the cross. There’s nothing left but the goodness of God.

Every morning, every hour, every minute, I have to choose: will this be a Sinai moment or a Calvary moment? Can I trust Christ in me, or should I fall back on the law that has bruised me so many times before? How much can I lean on this riotous grace I’ve been given at the cost of God’s blood? My body doesn’t move, but my heart decides which mountain to make home for now.

Either way, I’ll meet God. The King of everything just so, or the Prince of Peace. The God of clean things, checklists, and standing far off, or the God who spent 33 years compassionately walking this dusty mess of earth for us. While the Lord is unchanging, the way He relates to His people has undergone a massive shift from the Old Testament to the New. I can prefer to be treated like a toddler who needs stern rules, or I can choose to be treated like an adult who needs to exercise wisdom because of the abundant freedom at hand.

As believers, we live among the mountains. Sinai is our past. Calvary is our present. And Zion is our future. The journeys are unique, but our Guide is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He cannot fail. He’s beckoning to us, even now. You with the little mouths to feed. You with the sermon to finish. You with the new promotion on the horizon.

Come away to the mountain.

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