“Hey — Tyler — How do you think this — this big bald thing even got here?” I said as I paused in my ascent of the large basalt dome for a brief moment, just long enough to slow down my panting and speak my mind in complete sentences. “Do you think it was just a massive boulder flung up in the air during the flood, and it managed to land here?”
Tyler, a student missionary like me, stopped a few steps above me. I knew he was processing my question. Tyler is quite a meticulous thinker and always willing to indulge my curiosity cravings. “I think it is probably a result of former volcanic activity,” Tyler logically replied.
“Yeah, that makes more sense,” I said as I glanced down to see how far up we had climbed. That was a mistake. I suddenly began to feel woozy from the tip of my scalp down to my sweaty, sandal-covered feet.
As we neared the summit, the slope of the dome gradually became less severe. But the once-smooth surface had now eroded into ruts and potholes. In these spaces, the rainwater would accumulate and form little ponds, creating a home for various plants and critters. It was beside one of these little ponds that I discovered a small pile of rocks. Upon further investigation, I realized that these small rocks, at one point, made up a rock tower. Oh, that is so cool, I thought. Someone actually took the time to pick out these rocks and balance them on top of each other. I then re-stacked each stone. After a few minutes, I balanced the last little pebble at the very top. I quickly pulled out my phone, ka-chick, snapping a photo of my masterpiece before resuming the climb.
A few steps later, I saw another rock tower not too far off. This one was a bit larger, so the wind had not knocked it over. I kept walking, and soon after, I saw another similar tower, then another one, and another. By the time we reached the summit, we were surrounded by tons of rock towers scattered everywhere. Huge ones, the largest even taller than me. It quickly became apparent that these rock towers all served a specific purpose. Surrounding the towers were candles, incense sticks and food. Some of the larger towers even had a white sheet draped over them — they were altars.
Once again, a feeling rushed through every inch of my body, but this time it was not a dizzy feeling from fear of heights. What is this feeling? Am I sad? Kind of, but not really. Am I angry? Yeah, I think so. I’m angry. I’m furious!
I was in such a beautiful place that bore witness to an awesome God, but altars dedicated to evil spirits littered the space. Instead of coming here to worship the God of all creation, people come to worship the creation as gods.
God reveals Himself and His love to humans through the blessing and beauty of His creation. And yet, in this sin-ridden planet, all creation has become less than perfect, tainted by sin and exploited by the father of lies. It is tempting to despair and cry, “Is there even any good thing left?”
Thankfully, nothing can sever us from God’s love, not even the altars surrounding me. No matter how hard the devil was trying to misconstrue the character of God by distorting this beautiful place, the anthem “God is love!” sprang from the birds in the rainforest below. Their song was carried by the gentle breeze and echoed back from the mighty mountains in the distance.
At that moment, as God’s beauty overwhelmed my soul, I realized that no matter how messed up or twisted any place seemed, I would look for glimpses of God’s mercy and love. And if it seemed too dark of a place for the presence of God to be, then I would know God was present there through me — my life would bear witness to my amazing God.
Whether this mountain was a result of cooled lava, an airborne boulder, or anything else, it testified to the beauty of its Creator. In the same way, this mountain was a missionary to me in this place where few know and worship God as Creator. I want my life to preach my Creator’s life-giving love to a dying world. I definitely do not want to go bald, but in many other ways, I strive to be more like this mountain.