by Rachel Ellis
“Certainly work is not always required of a man. There is such a thing as a sacred idleness, the cultivation of which is now fearfully neglected.” —George MacDonald
I’ve always loved the mountains. Rugged strength, hues of monochromatic color towering deep into the skyline.
There isn’t a thrill in the world like scaling the top of a sublime peak and feeling the world dance with the wind.
Mountains have a certain magic to them, a mystical quality that imprints on those that live in their shadows.
For the sacred few, the “mountaineers” of West Virginia, mountains connect us to home, our mountain mama with the winding roads that comforts rather than curates fear.
In Scripture, we often see mountains as the meeting place for man and God.
In particular, God chooses to meet Elijah on a mountain right after his greatest victory against the prophets of Baal. (1 Kings 19)
Worn out, depressed, afraid for his life, Elijah supernaturally travels to Mount Sinai, the “mountain of God,” to spend the night in a cave waiting for God to show up.
After spending four years away from my mountains attending college in the Midwest, my new husband and I moved back to West Virginia, full of hope for the future and plans to travel overseas teaching about Jesus.
We didn’t know then that three years later, we would have two wonderful children. We didn’t know that I would be diagnosed with a rare genetic disease that made climbing the mountains of Eurasia impossible.
We waited, seemingly alone in the cradle of the Appalachian hills. Waited for God to tell us what was next.
Elijah waited for what seemed an eternity before God asked him to go out and stand on the mountainside while God passed by.
He saw the strong wind shake the mountain and shatter the rocks. He felt the earth shake beneath him. He saw fire light up the earth. Yet, the Lord was not in these things.
The last three years have seen strong winds for my family. The earth has shook as our expectations, our jobs, our health and our sense of calling have failed us.
Fire has threatened to consume our faith as we’ve waited in the shadow of the mountain for God to come near.
Elijah had just experienced the mountain as a place of great victory as God sent fire from heaven to show his power.
But now, he sat inside the shell of his former self, watching the same fire outside his cave, and alone, because the Lord was not in the fire this time.
Then, out of the ash-covered landscape, Elijah began to feel a gentle breeze blow across the mountain face. It carried a gentle whisper—“Elijah, why are you here?”
Three years later, I’m not sure I know what the answer to the gentle stirring of the Spirit is yet, but I’m beginning to catch a glimpse. A glimpse of peace from the storm as I hear the whisper of love from the mountains surrounding my country roads.
Maybe mountains aren’t just places of victory. Maybe mountains are also places of rest.
Rachel Ellis lives in the beautiful state of West Virginia with her husband, two kiddos under two, and a constant cup of coffee–cream, no sugar. She spends her time as a freelance journalist by night and a Hot Wheel collector by day. Her current passions include Jesus, coffee, and Daniel Tiger.
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