Several years ago on my original personal blog called Front Porch Chats, I wrote about a certain intersection in the South Carolina city where I lived. If you looked to the left at the stoplight at East North and Haywood Road, you got a view that went all the way to North Carolina. We lived in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains, and on a clear day, the view from that intersection was breathtaking. The kids would laugh because I would always start singing Psalm 121. “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills…” My alternate song was, “Before the hills in order stood, or earth received her frame, from everlasting Thou art God, to endless years the same!”
On a cloudy or rainy day, the view was obscured. The gray mist completely obliterated the mountains, and you would never have known that they loomed in the distance. It’s so much like life. There are times when we seem to see the Lord in our lives and His plan so clearly, and joyful songs come easily. Then there are the times when the mists of confusion and personal pain descend and there doesn’t seem to be a song for it. God seems obscured by a heavy veil, and the things in our lives seem to make no sense at all.
This seems to be reflected again and again in the Psalms and in David’s experiences. There are Psalms that are joyful bursts of praise and hope, and then there are the Psalms that are urgent pleas for help and even cries of near despair. “Hear my cry, O Lord, give ear unto my prayer…” Psalm 17:1
We don’t understand sometimes why the enemy seems to be given so much ground in this life. As believers, we know we are in a spiritual battle, and we know that the enemy has many devices, but somehow when you come face to face with his handiwork and attempts to destroy your faith and confidence, it still dismays. Evil people seem to be given almost unmlimited scope at times to harass and trouble you. The enemy loves to hurl accusations at you. He is, after all, the accuser of the brethren. Sometimes the past that you seek to leave behind, as Scripture tells us to, rises up out of nowhere to mock and haunt you. Physical pain can also work this way. There seems to be absolutely no redemptive element at times in physical suffering. You just want help and to have the pain alleviated. These times can leave us puzzled and confused.
I’ve thought of those mountains many times. They never left, I just couldn’t see them. In our lives, that’s where faith comes in. God hasn’t left us, He just sometimes seems veiled to us. I once read an illustration in a sermon where a child out walking with his mother was continually stopping and getting distracted and running off. The mother briefly stepped out of view into a doorway. It took a few moments for the errant child to realize his mother was missing. Suddenly, the distractions ceased to attract him and his one passion was to find his mother’s face. The child learned his lesson and kept his hand in his mother’s for the rest of the way.
Maybe that’s why God sometimes obscures himself for a time in our lives. Maybe He also wants our single-minded attention and seeking of Himself. Frances Ridley Havergal wrote once of putting a little child to bed. Until the light was put out, the child was playing in the crib, oblivious to her in the room. When the light went out, the little one immediately stood up and gripped the edge of the crib, anxious to know that someone familiar was there. Frances wrote of how sweet the baby’s arms were, tightly placed around her neck. The baby had needed security and found it in her caregiver. She didn’t have the need until the lights around her were out.
Sometimes the light in our lives goes out. Plans we have made, hopes and dreams we have had are totally rearranged by the Lord. Things seem murky and senseless. Those are the times when we need to reach out for the Lord and grasp tightly to Him. As His children, we are so easily distracted and so quickly removed from that kind of love and security in His presence.
If you’re trying to see through rain today and the mists have descended, just remember, the mountains are still there. God’s eternal presence never leaves us. We sometimes try to leave Him, but He doesn’t leave us. Life is always going to have its heartaches and struggles. As I said once before, every Eden in this life has its serpent. But reach out in the dark for the hand of the One who doesn’t fail. He will lead us on to clearer times of understanding. The sun will shine again, and your songs will return again, all the more joyful because God brought you through.