Faithfully yours - Look to the mountains


By Neil Strohschein

The Neepawa Banner

As I write these words, I am watching a series of YouTube videos called Train Across the USA. The series contains 11 videos, each roughly 70 minutes long. The trip divides into three parts: Seattle, WA to Sacramento, CA aboard Amtrak’s Coastal Express; Sacramento to Chicago, IL aboard the California Zephyr; and finally, Chicago to New Orleans, LA aboard the City of New Orleans—the train Country singer Arlo Guthrie immortalized in song.

Video Three covers the trip from Sacramento, across Donner’s Pass to Reno, Nevada. Donner’s pass goes through the heart of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Its summit is over 5,400 feet above sea level. In May 2016, when this video was shot, the snow was gone, skies were clear and passengers were treated to incredible views of mountains that, except for the effects of natural erosion, look the same as they did thousands of years ago. 

Throughout history, mountains have been a sign of strength and stability. They have withstood blizzards, heavy rains, ice storms, earthquakes, wild fires, major wars and dozens of US Presidential elections. Not even pressure from deep beneath the earth’s crust can easily move a mountain. If it gets too high, an escape valve (volcano) releases the pressure and equilibrium is restored; leaving the mountains standing as tall and strong as ever.

In the Bible, the mountains were places where people met with God. Moses met God at a burning bush located on the side of a mountain. When God came to earth to give ancient Israel his laws, he spoke from atop a mountain. Jesus’ transfiguration, crucifixion and ascension all took place on mountains and one day, when he returns to this earth, his feet will first touch the ground on a mountain located outside the city of Jerusalem.

In ancient times, when people needed God’s help, they looked to the mountains. As King David wrote: “I lift up my eyes to the hills (to the mountains)—from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord who made the heaven and the earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2) As they looked to the mountains, they prayed to the God who hovered above them—unseen, but always near and ready to help those who cried to him for aid.

God’s response never disappointed them. He guided, protected and helped those who put their faith in him—even though their nation was often being governed by some of the nastiest wretches ever to slither across the pages of human and Biblical history. Political, social and economic conditions were always changing; but just like the mountains, God remained the same.

Over 3,000 years have passed since David wrote Psalm 121. Monarchs, dictators and elected leaders have come and gone. The laws governing society have been passed, modified, ruled unconstitutional, ignored and ultimately replaced. We’ve been through droughts, floods, fires, famines, wars, dozens of federal, provincial and local elections, regime changes and countless other natural and man-made disasters. But the mountains are still there and so is the God who created them—still hovering above them, ready to help those who call on him in faith.

I hold no illusions about our society’s future. We are reaping the consequences of the political and economic choices previous generations have made. Changing governments changes little, if indeed anything. Our only hope is to look to the mountains and call on the God who hovers above them. He will help us, just as he helped the people of ancient Israel; but we must trust in him and obey his commands.