By Merletta Roberts
This is the second in a series of posts for Lent. Click on “Lent” in the tag cloud on the right to see other posts in the same series. Be sure to subscribe to the blog to get updated posts delivered straight to your inbox or feed reader.
This psalm begins, “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains, from where shall my help come? My strength comes from God, who made heaven and earth.” As I read these words, I travel back to my childhood years in Indiana and a very limited experience of mountains.
A family vacation to the Smoky Mountains was my first encounter. I was terrified as my exuberant Dad drove the curves around those giant “hills” at the same speed he was used to traveling on relatively flat, straight roads back in Indiana. I learned that mountains were real obstacles that had to be overcome and I had no interest in learning more about them.
When I met my future husband while in graduate school in California, I often pointed to what looked like a mountain to me, only to hear him say, “Oh, you mean that hill.” He had grown up in the west and northwest and, therefore, was accustomed to “real” mountains. That provided the beginning of a new experience for me.
Marrying and moving to the northwest, I experienced several trips over the Cascade Mountain Range and began to be less fearful during such travels. Then came the big test: My husband Dave and I took a trip to Montana and spent time in Glacier National Park. One day the plan was that I would meet him at the top of the “Going to the Sun Road” after a day in which he hiked up the mountain and I explored in the camping area.
Not knowing what I was about to get myself into, I started up the “Going to the Sun Road,” appropriately named for sure. This is at least a two-hour drive, a 50-mile climb to Logan Pass, which is 6,646 feet. My childhood fears returned as I drove up this steep, narrow, winding road, often in the outside lane with the ability to see down, down, down the mountain side. I talked to myself the entire trip, saying, “Merletta, you can do this, you can do this, you can do this.”
I did arrive at the top at the agreed-upon time only to find out that the trail Dave was going to use to meet me was closed due to a bear sighting. After waiting for some time, I finally gave up and started for the parking lot to get the car. It was then that Dave arrived, having hitched a ride with someone else going up the mountain. Great! He could drive back down. However, this experience taught me that I could overcome the paralyzing fear I had of mountains.
We often have situations in life that bring about paralyzing fear, such as illness, job loss, financial instability, or grief. However, these experiences can be a testing ground where we can experience God and learn what it’s like to trust God.