Seeking a Divine Encounter
Retreating to the Mountain
to Meet with God
I recently had the chance to do some hiking in Nevada, in the breathtaking Red Rock Canyon. I love to hike, and the mountains are my happy place. When life gets overwhelming, and the desire to step away hits, it’s the mountains I see in my mind’s eye. Those mountains are usually covered in trees, so these desert mountains were new and amazing.
There is something about looking at a mountain that puts life in perspective. Perhaps it’s the size of them – it highlights just how small I am in the great, big world. I can’t look at a mountain without a flood of thoughts about God. Awe that He created them. Amazement at the beauty God placed in our world. Reverence that the same God who created them created me.
There are so many Scriptures that mention mountains...
I lift my eyes up to the mountains – where does my help come from? (Ps 121:1)
Though the mountains be shaken, and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you. (Is 51:10)
In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. (Micah 4:1)
Significant moments in Bible history took place on mountains.
Mountains were integral in battle planning.
Moses hiked a mountain to encounter the glory of the Holy One.
And Jesus often retreated to the mountains, alone, to pray.
I had those images of Moses and Jesus in mind when I went hiking alone one day. I had plans of finding the perfect spot where I could sit, read Scripture, pray, and hear from God. I started out hiking with a mission, but I kept stopping to stare at the rock formations with my jaw on the ground. Every change in elevation brought new views. Every little shift of the sun created different depths in the rocks. It was stunning. It took forever to find the right spot because I kept stopping to stare and take photos.
An Appointment to Come to the Table
I finally found what I thought was the perfect spot. One of the things I wanted to focus my devotional time on was preparing for an upcoming women’s conference, so the theme was fresh on my mind: “Come to the Table”. I found an outcropping of rock that looked like a table had been set out, like it was designed for having a seat and opening up a book!
There was a tabletop for me to set my water and snack, and a nice flat place to sit with my Bible and colored pencils, and an exquisite view.
I sat there, and I looked around at the perfect scene, and took a deep breath, waiting for God to speak.
I read some of Daniel, just picking up with my daily reading. Good stuff.
And I waited.
I closed my eyes and prayed. Nothing extraordinary happened.
I was secluded, I was sitting quite still, and nothing was happening.
I started thinking about being still before the Lord and how God’s voice is so often described as a still small whisper. And then I recalled words Pastor Daryl Blank spoke just the Sunday before; in reference to 1 Kings 19:11-18. In that Scripture, Elijah is told to wait for God. There was strong wind, an earthquake, and fire, but the Lord was not in those things. Then there came sheer silence. When he heard it, Elijah went to the entrance of the cave where he’d been hiding and was ready to hear the voice of the Lord. Pastor Daryl said that God’s voice wasn’t silent… it could be HEARD in the silence.
When he said it, I made a mental note simply because I appreciated his wording.
But on the mountain as I sat with my peacefully perfect setting, I realized that while the setting was perfectly silent, my mind was far from it.
I was distracted by a million things. I have to laugh at myself for this: I was expecting God to speak when I scheduled it, so I could cross that off my to-do list and go on my way. I was thinking about how I needed to be aware of my surroundings, so I didn’t get a snake bite or kidnapped. I was thinking about the need to get back to the trail head before dark. I was thinking about spending my time just right with the folks I was staying with in Nevada. I was hoping that God would go ahead and give me the message He wants me to share at the conference, and maybe some direction for my next Bible study. I was thinking about my friends who are struggling with fresh grief. I was thinking of several friends with heavy burdens. I was over-thinking interactions I’d had with people. I was thinking about the future.
There was nothing resembling sheer silence in my mind. I was grateful that God brought Pastor Daryl’s words to mind and reminded me of Elijah’s story – he was distracted and fearing for his life. But God ushered him into silence where he could hear truth from God Himself.
I took that as gentle chiding. The longer I sat in that perfect spot, the more my mind raced. So, I decided to go on with my hike and allow the Lord to minister to me that way. I would walk, take in the beauty of creation, and not force anything.
My Rock, My Hiding Place, My Protector
Just a little further along the path, I came across one slab of stone propped against a much larger rock.
How could I see that and not think of the Lord Who is my Shelter? The Rock, my Hiding Place?
And how could I not stage a photo of myself being hidden from sight and from the elements?!
I continued walking and thinking about how God fills those roles in my life. How He protects me. How He has strength I cannot fathom. When a million different things require my focus, I can take shelter in His care, and He will protect my heart and help me to focus and prioritize according to His will.
He Sees Every Hiding Place
By the time I made it near the trail head, I had a sense of peace. So many things still waited for my attention, but I was certain that I did not face those things alone. I felt like I had spent time in the presence of God. I didn’t hear any particular words from Him, but I had been in His presence. As He had ushered Elijah into silence, He had ushered me into silence; all of those things I had been distracted by were quieted so that I could focus on God.
I could see the parking lot in the distance but wasn’t quite ready to leave. By that point, there was more traffic along the path, but since I’ll never see those people again, I decided it was okay to be a little weird. I stepped off the path just a bit, and just stood and stared at the mountain for a few minutes. I let my eyes really take in every little detail.
Look at all of those nooks and crannies. So many places one could hide. And as I zeroed in on so many hiding places, I was hit with a thought that made me cry, right there. So many hiding places. And yet, not one of them is hidden from God’s sight. There is nowhere I can wind up that God cannot hear me, see me, and be with me.
I started thinking of so many people lost in a myriad of metaphorical ways. So many people buried under grief. Buried under addiction. Hiding from pain. Running from abuse. Hidden by guilt, oppression, or neglect. And that’s just what I can think of off the top of my head.
Darkness works so hard to hide what is good. But however dark, how ever lost, however hopeless it looks to us, God sees us. He hears us. He cares. We have hope.
I can’t leave that there without a follow-up because sometimes we can hear something like that and wonder, “Well, then, why…”
If you feel hidden and unseen, and you’re wondering why rescue is taking so long, I don’t have your specific answer, but I have this to share: ask Him in. Invite His help. Cry out to Him and allow Him to work. Allow yourself to get away from distractions so you can hear His voice. Allow God to be your protector, to hide you from dangerous elements. Know that God sees you, even when you feel far away, even when you’re hiding. Finally, I leave you with this:
- Do what is necessary to get away from the distractions so you can hear from God.
- Know that when you need shelter, He is your hiding place.
- When you feel hidden in darkness, God sees you and is your rescue.