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Spiritual Geography: Mountains and Valleys In Scripture

Colorado has 58 mountain peaks that measure more than 14,000 feet high, often known as “14ers.” During a family reunion in 2005, the more adventurous in our group climbed one of the easier 14ers, Quandary Peak. If you’ve ever attempted such a feat, you know that climbing to that elevation takes considerable effort. As you ascend, the air becomes thinner, and your body reacts to the changing altitude. But the views from the top were astounding (as were the increasingly forceful winds!). Valleys have their own type of beauty. The most memorable one that I have seen is Dead Sea Valley in Israel.

Mountains and valleys appear frequently in Scripture, perhaps because they so accurately depict the dynamics of our faith journey. Most of us have had mountaintop experiences where God seems especially near, and we are overwhelmed by His goodness and glory. But there are also those valleys, when we feel vulnerable, shaken, even utterly alone.

Psalm 121 is labeled a Song of Ascent, also referred to as the Pilgrim Song. I love how it focuses not on the mountaintop experience but on the journey itself:

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither sleep nor slumber.

The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from harm—he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

Are you on the mountaintop today, celebrating what God has done in your life? Or are you in the valley, struggling to see and understand? God is present. He is protecting you, ensuring that your foot holds firmly on a crevice. He shields you from the heat of the blazing sun and the icy sting of winter. He is forever vigilant from the moment you were born until your last dying breath. He is your constant through it all.

We can rejoice that God is with us—not just at our destination but on every step along the way.

BY Greg Thornton, Interim President of Moody Bible Institute

Greg Thornton is interim president of Moody Bible Institute. During Thornton’s 35 years of ministry at Moody, he has served in various roles, most recently as senior vice president of media. Moody’s Alumni Association named Thornton Alumnus of the Year in 2015. Thornton is a member of The Moody Church, where he serves as an elder. He and his wife, Grace, have been married for more than 35 years and have three children and five grandchildren.

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