For me “The Sound of Music” and “Mary Poppins” are reminders of a very happy childhood. Hearing a couple of decades ago that Julie Andrews can swear like a trooper in real life tarnished the memory slightly for a year or two, but it recovered! Even now in my late 50’s I watch them every time they come up in the T.V Schedule. For some reason I don’t like to watch them on DVD at my leisure any time I want: one of my many quirks that I don’t quite understand! Actually when I think of it I don’t need to understand that oddity. I like my oddities and eccentricities that are a mystery to me and often to others. In fact I love them! Although it was not a particularly catchy tune, and perhaps not even the type of song a child was meant to like, I found myself in awe of the song, “Climb Every Mountain,” the first time I heard it in a cinema in Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow which is no more. I think it was called “The Gaumont” but I might be wrong about that. Whatever, I was inspired by the thought of that song as well as by the incredible voice of the person who sang that song whoever she was. However unguarded truths or truths that are revered beyond their proper reach can be destructive. The thought of climbing every mountain sounds very noble and appeals to those who like to think of the indomitable human spirit. However Jesus showed that there were limits to such a noble truth. He said that there are mountains we were not to climb but to simply command to be removed from our path.
I wonder if some of us have the mentality of being spiritual Munro baggers? There is something about a mountain, that makes us feel we have to climb it and notch up another victory over another challenge. Well, I am asking you today to consider if there is something you are trying to climb that the Lord has never asked you to climb? Perhaps it is the demands of your church. Church and indeed church leaders can become mountain makers for people, asking us to climb the mountain of the leader’s dreams or aspirations, or the pressures of a congregation without being allowed to question. But perhaps the leadership has become like a Pharisee or a scribe or a teacher of the law in Jesus day who all effectively in one way or another loaded up on people’s backs burdens that were hard to bear that Jesus actually came to remove. There are times when church leadership oversteps its authority and starts telling their people in quite some detail what they are allowed to do and not to do. It reached a damaging height in the charismatic movement back in the seventies and eighties in what became known as Heavy Shepherding or The Shepherding movment – leaders effectively interfering and commanding in every aspect of a believer’s life. Is it time to say “no” to someone who is asking too much of you, who is wanting to make you a mirror image of themselves and their vision, instead of encouraging you to be who you are in God? Is there a mountain in terms of “church” that God never asked you to climb but somehow you are wearying your truest you out trying to meekly comply?
Or perhaps the mountain that you are trying to conquer is a mountain of having to be a certain type of believer, with a certain type of personality etc. You aspire to be like someone you greatly admire and wish you were more like them. You are persuaded by the lure of a false “you” which somehow for some reason you feel you must aspire to. Why not tell that mountain to get out of the way? God made no mistake when he made you or made me. According to Ephesians every believer is God’s work of art! Not everyone appreciates every artist’s work of art, indeed sometimes we might wonder as we look if there is anything artistic going on at all! You might feel incredulity at the idea of you as you being a work of art, as much as the incredulity I felt about a contestant’s work of art in the Turner Prize which I saw a photograph of in the papers yesterday – a man clutching his buttocks! But it was someones work of art, I guess. I am still left thinking today though, “Who is kidding who here,” with regard to calling what I saw in that photograph “art.” But I know for sure you are a work of art without having to guess. I have no doubts about that. The bible tells me it is so and I believe it. You as you are in God, to God are priceless. You may feel incredulous and want to say, “Who is kidding who?” It is, however true!
“Climb every mountain” now belongs in that quiver of spiritual arrows, waiting for the right times and seasons to draw it out, which is not in the face of every mountain. I have other arrows there as well. The prayer used in Remembrance Services about how as Christians we should fight and not heed the wounds belongs there in that quiver for arrows which should be used sparingly and at the right time, otherwise spiritual and indeed emotional and physical carnage can be the result.
“Stop climbing every mountain.” Could that be the Word of the Lord for some who read this? Do you need to face something today to tell it to get out of the way of the purposes of God for you?
My health makes climbing mountains unlikely unless I want to get to glory sooner rather than later! But my physical limitation health wise also means I need to take stock spiritually and ask which mountains My heavenly Father who loves me means me to climb and which have been put there by the expectations of others or by my being harsh toward myself. What I can manage spiritually and physically for that matter is a steady walk on level ground. Well, in Scripture we are commanded to make level ground for the Lord and for ourselves. Don’t put unnecessary mountains up against His approach. Don’t climb unnecessary mountains that are not His purpose. May God give you strength when you are meant to climb and strength to walk on level ground when you are not being told to climb. Maybe this is a day to be bold and command mountains out of the way of you being you in God.
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