Mountain iPod

I’ve done a fair amount of hiking this summer and have seen some pretty ridiculous landscapes over the last few months.  I cannot understand how anyone can claim that God doesn’t exist as a simple jaunt in the open spaces leaves little room for doubt.  The wilderness is simply a reservoir of God’s majesty that spills over into lush plateaus and mountain streams that lead to emerald meadows.  Every time I’m out there I marvel at the creativity of our God.

Earlier this summer my family and I were hiking in the Crazy Mountains north and west of Big Timber, Montana.  If you’ve never been to this incredible range you really owe it to yourself to check it out.  Actually, incredible is an inadequate word to describe this rugged maze of twenty-three almost vertical peaks each leaping over 10,000 feet into the air.  On this particular trip our goal was Granite and Blue Lakes.  The trail to these modest bodies of water provides a steady climb until the last mile and a half.  From there on it’s an all out assault on unconditioned legs and lungs up a series of switchbacks until you reach the flat housing a barely recognizable forest service cabin.  One hundred yards later you’re at Blue Lake – a destination worth every step.  Another fifty yards takes you to Granite Lake: the non identical twin of Blue.

If you’ve ever gained elevation while hiking, I think this observation is going to resonate in you.  God just seems closer when you’re on or near a mountain.  Not for the obvious reason of proximity (assuming God is somewhere up there…) but for an almost unexplainable reason: a reason that perhaps Jesus knew and understood.  I’m often puzzled when I read in the New Testament that Jesus went up a to the mountain or on a mountainside to pray.  For instance, Luke 6:12 says, “In these days He went out to the mountain to pray, and all night He continued in prayer to God.”  And Luke 9:28 says, “He took with Him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray.”  These aren’t the only instances in the Bible that describe Jesus praying in this location.  Mind you mountains weren’t the only places Jesus prayed but he did spend lots of time praying on a mountain.  Why?

A few months ago I was talking to my friend Shawn Brookhart and he related something to me that Dave Hagstrom said about this very thing.  From Dave’s perspective God isn’t any closer on a mountain than anywhere else but that that location is free from the distractions inherent in our normal, everyday lives.  Therefore, providing a better atmosphere in which to connect with God.  Hmmm…

On our return trip back to Billings, a mile after leaving Half Moon campground the public road turns private announced by a sign that reads, “Private land next three miles.  Stay on road.”  Another mile and you come to a gate stretched across the road near the Lazy K Ranch.  The ranch appears abandoned with a couple of seemingly discarded vehicles and a couple dozen range horses.  The only real evidence of human life is some laundry hanging from an old clothesline that borders the road and one of the out buildings.  And to my surprise I noticed a young man about sixteen years of age come out of the barn on the other side of the road wearing white iPod headphones.  The contrast of my mountain rumination and his from a gadget was stark.  I think creation has it’s own song.  Here we were amidst a mountain paradise having been exposed to the anthem of nature and here was a kid ignoring it.  All this has reminded me of a great truth.  We often overlook the familiar and abhor the simple.  Sad…

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