Confession: I cry when I see mountains. If I’m being really honest, sometimes I cry just thinking about mountains. Being in the mountains, hiking them, even driving past them and between them has always been a spiritual experience for me. I experienced a monumental shift in my faith and my spiritual life this summer, while driving through the mountains. Friends, family, books, songs, etc, had been planting the seeds of change in my heart for awhile, but something in me broke on CO-93 in between Golden, Colorado and Boulder, Colorado. As my brother and mom chatted in the front seat about the colleges we would tour that week (for my brother), I sat in the back seat, tears streaming down my face, with Lion and The Lamb by Leeland on repeat coming through my headphones. Something had shifted in me; I had finally felt the presence of God. I felt His strength, His endurance, His promise, His love, His beauty, His steadfast heart, all of it.
I was born in Virginia, near the Blue Ridge Mountains. I spent a year of my life attending a college nestled at the feet of those same mountains. There’s something about them that has always called to me; a resounding, steadfast strength that can’t be shaken. I’ve always been attracted to nature in general; I feel most at peace when I’m far, far away from any kind of civilization, separated from all the worries of this world. There’s a quiet strength that can be found in the mountains that doesn’t exist anywhere else in nature. As I’ve often told my mom (or really anyone who would listen), stick me in a log cabin in the mountains with a stack of books and a Bible, and I would be happy to live out the rest of my days there.
My very first tattoo was one of a mountain ridge, with the words “Ut Prosim” underneath it. I don’t have a hard time explaining those latin words to people: “Ut Prosim” means “That I may serve,” which is the motto of Virginia Tech. As a Hokie, I learned to serve without question, and as a Christian I’m called to serve everyone. The mountains were always a bit tougher to explain (until my May trip to Colorado). I used to say I chose mountains because I was born near them, and went to college in them. However I’ve realized the reason I chose the mountains, the reason I wanted them so badly on me where I would see them everyday, was because mountains are where I find God and feel closest with Him, most protected by Him. Whenever I look down at my arm, I now have a constant reminder of His strength, of His beauty, of His steadfast love. I live in Texas, it’s infamously flat here. So I had to make my own mountains.
I think it’s extremely important as Christians to figure out where we see God most. I’m not suggesting you pick something and worship it above God–I by no means worship mountains. I worship the God who made them, and the God I have found through them. Maybe you see God most in the sea; the constant dull roar of the waves reminding you His love is deep and endless. Perhaps you find Him amongst the stars, each of those twinkling lights reminding you we have a God who is good. Where do you look when you feel lost? Where do you want to flee to when you lose sight of God, or falter in your faith? That’s probably where you feel God is closest to you. Find that place and create reminders of it in your life so that it is ever-present (just as God is). Personally, I have a playlist of worship songs that reference the mountains, and of course I have my tattoo. Find your anchor in God and embrace it wholly. God made this world for us to live in, to thrive in. He saw it and it was good. Naturally, we’re going to find Him through his beautiful creations. So what’s your mountain?