by Janet Keefe
I drove to the top of Mount Washington last week. It was the day after my birthday, and my thoughts were solemn. Alone on the drive, I watched as the trees became stunted, first scrub, then disappearing, replaced by patches of grass clinging precariously to the slopes as I ascended the mountain. The sky was dark following rain from the previous night. Clouds hung morosely on the peaks casting long and wide shadows on the mountain slopes. The wind blustered and the temperature dropped by 30 degrees. I drove past sheer drops that plummeted down the mountainside. Being afraid of heights, my drive alternated between prayer and abject terror.
We live in a world of fear. It influences our work. It influences our families. It influences our relationships. It influences our faith. Our courage comes from an argument with fear, one that we want to pretend that we have won. We are convinced that we are to fight, like good Christian soldiers, battling against the forces of evil. We believe we are to condemn wickedness in all of its ungodly forms. We are to call it out. We must defend our faith. We must defend our family. We must defend our God. We must not be silent. We must be brutal in our honesty and our proclamations must be loud. We must be hard on sin and harder on sinners. If we are not, our church, our very way of life will be obliterated. Will it?
I have often thought of the statement Christ made in Luke 19:40. The Pharisees were complaining that Jesus’ followers were shouting Jesus’ praise. Jesus replied to the Pharisees : “If they keep quiet, the very stones would cry out.” Does not this mean that everything, from a rejoicing multitude of people to the stones lying trampled in the roadway can, will, and must speak, must sing His praises? That praise for Him can never be silenced? Will it never be silenced, if He speaks it so? What do we have to fear?
We are driven by fear when we forget who He is. When we forget who He is, we forget His love, His mercy, His grace. We work so hard to please Him that our lives become duty. Our hearts turn to stone. We forget to love one another. Our example becomes more important than our mercy. We posture about our righteousness and bask in our judgment in a desperate bid to win His approval. We fail to practice forgiveness because we fear. When we doubt His omnipotence, we have fear. When we forget His mightiness, we have fear.
On the top of Mount Washington, the rocks look almost fragile. They seem green hued and worn, weary from ages of battering by the wind, of being frozen by hostile and relentless snows and deluged by drowning rains. Their sharp edges are muted and their angles dulled. Ancient, they have seen the sun rise a million times. Though they sit silently, sentries of ages past, they are not eternal. The mountain is crumbling. The rocks are dying like the spotty grass growing tenuously on Washington’s heights.
The Bible says: “All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” (Isaiah 40:6-8).
Only He is mighty. Only He can meter justice. Only He can save. The world cannot deny Him or silence the song of His praise. It will be sung by the grass and the flowers. It will be sung by the people forever unshackled from fear. It will be sung by the very rocks, crying out Hosanna to the King of Kings, for all of eternity.