Mountains

I love mountains. I always have and I probably always will. There’s something about their bigness that really takes my breath away. Whether I’m at the bottom, watching the peaks dance with the clouds, or I’m at the top, taking in the naturally impossible perspective of this miraculous planet, mountains really are awe-inspiring for me. I think we like to be amazed by big things—solar systems, mountains, big buildings—because it puts things back in perspective. It reminds us how small and insignificant we really are in comparison to all of creation.

One of my favorite things about mountains is how they’re created. There are several different ways that they shoot up out of the ground like they do, but one of the most common ways is by millions and millions of years of tectonic plates bashing up against one another. That’s how the Himalayas in Asia were formed, that’s how the Andes in South America were formed, and that’s how the Rockies in the good old U.S. of A and Canada were formed.  I think, anyway. I’m no geologist, but I’m pretty sure that’s how it worked. Let’s just go with it.

But wait. Didn’t God create the mountains? Well, yes but probably not how most people envision. I think God has a plan for how he wants mountains to look and He uses the natural process of seismic activity and other tectonic plate stuff that’s beyond me to make it all happen. I think that’s the way it is with a lot of things. God uses what we call “Science” to accomplish and create the things He intended to create from the beginning, which we often call “Creation.”

The reason I love how mountains are created so much is because the whole process teaches me a little bit about life. When these tectonic plates build up pressure and go head-to-head against one another, it sends seismic waves across the land—earthquakes. The effects of earthquakes are often devastating. Things that people have probably worked so hard to build and accomplish are ruined. Rubble litters the street. Homes are left in shambles, and life just seems like complete chaos. But in the midst of this devastation and pain and chaos, beauty is being created. Without earthquakes, mountains wouldn’t exist. The rubble, the homes, the chaos and pain…all that will pass. The roads can be cleaned. The homes can be repaired and rebuilt. It may take weeks. It may take months. It may take years. But the devastation, the pain, the chaos, is temporary. It will pass. The beauty of a mountain, however, is there to stay.

There are so many events and tragedies in life that are devastating, painful, chaotic, and earth-shattering. But ultimately, God is in control. And He’s pretty good at creating beauty. I know I can look back at my life and compare it to my life now, and I can see the beauty that has resulted from the chaos and pain that once was. And that’s one lesson I have to constantly remind myself of. In the midst of creating beauty there is often pain. Kind of like a waterfall. It’s chaotic and loud and probably painful (if you’re under one big enough) to be in the middle of. But once you get through it, once you get past it all, you can look back and take in the whole scene. And it’s gorgeous. And kind of like a storm that never seems to end. But every so often, when that storm passes there’s a rainbow that helps remind you that everything’s going to be okay. Even if it’s just a small reminder.

All this talk of beauty and mountains and waterfalls and rainbows makes me feel and probably sound a little bit more poetic than I actually am. But I guess that’s okay.

Bad things in life just happen. They just do. But when they do, we can choose to sit and sulk and wallow, or we can choose to pick up the pieces, salvage what we can, know that God’s in control, and keep on keeping on, keeping a watchful eye for the beauty being created in the midst of chaos.

Whole Foods

It’s no secret. Whole foods are better for you than processed foods are. Research has proven this time and time again, and in our culture, this is relatively old news. So why, in light of all of these studies and facts, are we, as a country, still more obese than ever? Well for starters, processed food and fast food is simply more convenient; it takes less time to prepare (or order) this food than to take the time to make most whole foods. Also, a lot of times, whole foods and “healthy foods” just don’t taste as good as salty, fatty, processed foods. But then there are those people who do eat healthy foods and still gain weight. What’s up with that? Well, working out is still necessary, even when eating the right foods.

This past week, my pastor used this theme as a parallel to our spiritual lives, and I’ve been chewing on it ever since. I was super convicted because I love to read. I’m almost prideful in how many books I read in a given month. Nerdy, I know, but it’s the truth. After listening to this sermon, I realized that so many people in our culture, me being one of the biggest culprits, consume so much processed spiritual food and not nearly enough whole food. Whole spiritual food is nothing more than raw Scripture. Processed spiritual food includes Christian books, podcasts, sermons, etc. Scripture has been processed and prepared for our consumption by the author, pastor, or whoever else is interpreting it for us.

Just as we long for the convenience of processed/fast food, we gravitate toward these books and podcasts because they’re convenient. They’re already processed and made ready to consume. But what happens is we become addicted to their convenience and consume more and more of it until we’re fat with more knowledge than we know what do with. If we just take the time and read Scripture, we see that, while the list of “ingredients” or “usable” pieces of information may be fewer, the quality and richness is so much more than the processed stuff. Quality vs. quantity.

Sometimes, as with health foods, Scripture just isn’t as appetizing as a deliciously fatty Donald Miller book. Now, don’t get me wrong; I love Donald Miller books, but I also love cheesecake. And I can’t live on cheesecake. Wish I could. But what’s true about health food is also true about Scripture. Sometimes, it can be bland and boring. I’d vouch for that. But it’s what’s best for us. It sustains us. It keeps us going longer than any processed or fast food can. And every once in a while, a food tastes so good, we’d be surprised it was healthy. Same can be said about Scripture.

But even if we read Scripture all day every day, we can still become “spiritually fat”. The first chapter in James, verses 14-26, talks about how faith and deeds must coincide. We have to not only consume Scripture, but we must also “work out” our faith. Our deeds should be a natural reaction to what we know and believe. If we just know it and don’t do it, we’re just spiritually fat and useless. But we have to be careful not to become weak, tired, worn out, and spiritually anorexic. That is, we do, do, do, but we never take the time to feed ourselves spiritually. There has to be a balance.

So, with all this said, should we just throw out all our Christian books, stop listening to podcasts and sermons, and stop reading blogs? Well, no. It’s not terrible to have fast food every once in a while, or splurge on that cheesecake. Sure. Go for it. But we can’t live on the stuff. If our lives consist of more processed, fast food than whole foods, sure we’ll survive. But think of the health costs. Think of how much healthier your life could be if it consisted primarily of whole foods. It takes discipline, just like eating right. But with consistency, the benefits will undoubtedly follow.  Commit to being spiritually fit instead of spiritually fat. Eat more whole food.

Here’s the sermon that inspired all of this. It’s the one titled “Rooted”: http://www.gracepoint.org/index.cfm/pageid/2159/index.html