My husband and I are “do-ers.” Action-oriented people with advanced degrees, high self-efficacy, and confidence in our problem-solving skills. When we encounter barriers and obstacles, we figure out a way around or through. Adapt, improvise and overcome. Until the big one.
“He said to them, ‘Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.’” (Matthew 17:20, ESV)
This mountain was not just a mountain, but a mountain protected by the black gates of Mordor. Huge, treacherous, well-guarded, and impenetrable. All human and worldly problem-solving backfired. Against all odds, common sense, and reason, we found ourselves standing bewildered in the shadow of the black gated mountain with no way around or through. Could faith move it?
The mountain was big, looming over the whole family, casting its despair into our hearts. As a family of faith, we looked to the Word thinking this couldn’t be right.
“That’s why we can be sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” (Romans 8:28, MSG)
Before the battle even began, we trusted God. Throughout the challenges, trials, and heartaches, He gave us many signs of hope, indications of His presence, and evidence of His hand at work. Despite the many small mountains we encountered, we trusted Him. With His help, we got through or around. But this mountain was something else entirely.
How can a giant black-gated mountain be part of God’s plan for good? Why was the way blocked? How can bad things get worked into something good?
The truth is we may never know because we are not God.
As the black gate closed with a deep, trembling clamor, we banged on the door, tried to bring it down, but nothing budged. Against our instincts, we accepted there were no more options. We had to stop. During that time, something came to our attention.
“The Lord will fight for you, and you need only be still.” (Exodus 14:14, NIV)
To put this verse in context, Moses said this to the Israelites during their flight from Egypt. Pharaoh and his soldiers were after them and the Israelites were scared, thinking that life in Egypt wasn’t as bad as they thought. Even though they were treated poorly, they knew what to expect and now they were heading into the wilderness with only a promise that God would take care of them.
As I explored the surrounding text, I noticed several instances where the Lord “hardened the heart of Pharaoh” (Exodus 4:21) and “hardened the hearts of the Egyptians” (Exodus 14:17). The Lord made the going more difficult for Israel to glorify Himself so the Egyptians to know He was the Lord. The Israelites didn’t have to do anything but trust God and be still; let Him do His thing.
In the shadow of the mountain, we had to let go and let God do His thing.
The black gate remains and we live every day in awareness of the mountain behind it. We may never know how the mountain and the gate glorify Him, but maybe we are not the protagonist in the story. Maybe we are only the supporting cast. It’s not easy to live with the mountain always there, but God is always with us and we renew our trust in Him daily with our little mustard seeds of faith.
All we can do is pray and trust what’s happening on the other side glorifies God. We pray for the strength to be still and let the Lord do the fighting.