Hills & Mountains
“Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the LORD spoke in that day …” – Caleb to Joshua, Joshua 14:12a (NKJ)
The last few days in particular have found me thinking about the above passage, about Caleb and Joshua and their trust and confidence in God, about what they may have possibly felt being the only two leaders to have left Egypt’s slavery now getting ready to step foot into the Promised Land. And there is Caleb, 85 years old and still full of fight, of strength, of faith, ready to take his portion.
Now reading in other translations, the word ‘mountain’ in Joshua 14:12 appears to be more correctly translated ‘hill country’; discovering that tweak almost had me not wanting to share about this verse here. But as I considered it some more – mountain or hill country, is the impact of Caleb’s statement diminished?
I don’t think it is. Again, Caleb was 85 years old by the time he reached the land promised to Israel so many decades ago. He had stayed strong and sharp, in spirit and in body. And he was ready to take what was his. Be it hills or mountains, valleys or gorges it is no small thing Caleb is saying.
Now since Sunday, this verse has swirled and dipped around me as I look at the mountains and hills before me, as I read about the mountains others have faced. And when it comes to Bible verses about mountains, I tend to think about the one where Jesus says we can tell mountains to go jump in the sea (Matthew 21:21, Mark 11:23). I mean, come on – that would a) be pretty awesome to see, and b) make the road ahead a lot easier to travel, no? After all, doesn’t that mean we have Epic Faith if we’re moving every obstacle out of our paths, if every crooked and rough road is made smooth and straight, if every storm and wave is immediately stilled when we pray?
At least, that’s how I approached it, how I saw it for a good number of years. That is, until my husband was diagnosed with cancer, undergoing surgery and chemotherapy; until I saw those near and dear face struggles that did not listen to our prayers; until my arsenal of formulas and quick fixes failed me.
But God … God never failed. There were things both Jeff and I learned, things we let go of we wouldn’t have without walking those crooked, jagged paths of that particular mountain, and on the ones we faced before, and have faced since then. God showed Himself faithful and true, with flashes of love and humor like a supernatural supplement in valleys and on peaks we scrabbled to hold on to. And I’ve seen Him do it in the lives of those around me, too.
Yet so often, I still long for the easy way rather than following Jesus who is The Way. But oh, when I catch it – when we catch it? When we allow God to work in us and through us in the good times and the bad times? When we say, “Give me my mountain?” The things we see, the things we learn, and the ways we grow. As Bob Goff says, “When you’ve got a guide you can trust, you don’t have to worry about the path you’re on.”
So mountains high, or roads wide and smooth, we can do this when we follow Jesus and help one another along the way. (And oh, the places we’ll go!)