July 3, 2012
by Peter Amsterdam
Maria and I recently returned from a trip to Switzerland for a yearly foundation board meeting as well as other TFI-related business meetings. While there, I would often look out the window at the beautiful lake and surrounding mountains, which I could see from the windows of the home of the Family members we were staying with. There is one mountain in particular, across the lake, which stood out to me. It juts up like a gigantic rock, and each morning when we opened the curtains I would look at it and marvel at how majestic it was, towering over the lake. At the base of the mountain and going about halfway up, there are fields and trees. Then beyond the tree line it’s sheer rock all the way to the top.
We had many meetings, but during each break I’d step outside to look at the beautiful lake view and scenery, and would invariably end up focusing on the mountain, enjoying its splendor. Some days the sky was blue and clear, and the mountain seemed close enough to reach out and touch. One day, the top half of the mountain was covered in clouds, and all that could be seen were the trees which reached halfway up, while the rest was obscured. One morning, because of fog, it wasn’t possible to see the mountain at all. I knew it was there, but it was hidden from my view.
On our last morning in Switzerland, when I was looking one last time at the mountain, the Lord brought to mind a number of friends that I have spoken with or heard from of late and the different experiences and challenges they have been facing. One found himself fighting a severe life-threatening illness virtually from one day to the next, which required months of being in the hospital, with the uncertainty of whether he would recover or not. One couple had plans in place which would help them financially, but at the very last minute their plans fell through. Another is moving her family to another country without knowing whether she will have the means to make it financially once she arrives. She needs to go for a variety of reasons, she has desperately sought the Lord for His guidance, and things are falling into place, but it’s still a major step of faith. One couple’s ministry, which they’ve had for years, has come to an end, and they are struggling, not knowing what to do next. Another man’s job came to an end at the same time as he and his wife were facing some sickness in their family, and he hasn’t been able to get a new job yet.
I was looking at the mountain and thinking of these friends, and of the challenges they have been faced with. I thought about their fears, not knowing what’s ahead, not knowing how they will make it or what the future will bring. Each of them has expressed that while their faith has been tested and is still being tested, they believe the Lord will bring them through. As I thought about these loved ones, and so many others who are faced with uncertainty, the Lord reminded me of what I had observed while looking at the mountain over the previous days.
He reminded me that on some days the mountain was so clear, so obviously there, while on other days parts of it were obscure, and on the foggy day I couldn’t see it at all. And yet, whatever the weather, even when it couldn’t be seen, the mountain was there. Fog or clouds or raging storms might make it difficult to see, or even invisible, but it is always there, standing strong, unmovable.
I was struck by the courage of these people and of countless others who face the uncertainties of life with deep faith, even when the Lord’s presence is less evident. The Bible verse “we walk by faith, not by sight” came to mind. The fact is that, like the mountain, God in all His majesty is there, always. Whether we see or feel Him is irrelevant to the fact that He is there. Through all the storms of our lives, through the times of uncertainty or confusion or weakened faith, through the fears, the questions, the doubts, the loss, He is there.
Sometimes things are bright and sunny in our lives, and God’s blessings are very clear to us. At other times, like when the top of the mountain is covered in clouds, it’s a bit more difficult to see or feel His presence; and in the dense fog of uncertainty one can question if He’s there at all. But, like the mountain, nothing has changed on His side. He is there, solid, unmovable, ever loving, ever caring, never failing. As mentioned in The Heart of It All: The Nature and Character of God—God’s Immutability, the Old Testament repeatedly calls God “the Rock.” It was the ancients’ way of expressing His steadfastness, His total faithfulness; the fact that He doesn’t waver, that He is always true to His word, His promises; that He doesn’t change His mind, that He is always there for us. I understood this better as I looked upon this mountain, realizing that through everything that happens around it, it stands; it is never moved.
Who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
Looking at this mountain—this gigantic rock rising above the lake—brought to mind the stability of God, the sureness of His presence and help, regardless of the circumstances. We may worry or fear; we may doubt or be unsure. The storms that seem to engulf our lives at times can make it seem that He’s not there, not listening, or not concerned. But the simple fact is that the storms, the fog, and the winds in life don’t affect the presence of God any more than these elements in nature affect the mountain.
God is there, always. He is faithful, always. He is the unmovable Rock. He will never leave nor forsake us. Our faith may fail, but He isn’t dependent on our faith, for He is the Rock, the mountain, the faithful one whom we can depend on. Always.
This mountain was to me a reminder of God’s faithfulness, love, and concern; a reminder that God is in control. Even if things seem uncertain to me or in the lives of loved ones, even when it seems the clouds or fog have been there for a long time, the rock still stands, the mountain is there.
Later, when I was meditating on this and praying about it, the Lord said:
I am the solid rock, the firm foundation. I am He who is faithful and true, who is always there for you, who has everlasting love for you. Though there are times when you may not feel Me—when you feel that I have forsaken you or when you are fearful and feel the need of reassurance, but don’t seem to find it—you should remember that I am always there. Your circumstances do not determine whether I am with you. I am with you always. I always hear your prayers, and I will always answer you. It may not be on your timetable, it may not even seem to be the answer that you want or expect, but I always respond.
It often takes patience on your part to receive, and to even understand, the answer I have given. Sometimes you have to wait for the fullness of the answer, or the understanding of how I have answered. Sometimes My answers are a process which requires certain events to transpire one after another over time. But I am always there, ready to hear your prayers and to answer them.—And the lack of an immediate answer, and the subsequent time when things are foggy and uncertain, doesn’t mean that I am not there or that I am refusing to answer. You must always remember that beyond the fog and the uncertainty, I am there, just as the mountain is there even when you can’t see it. I am faithful and true, I am the Rock you can run to. I am steadfast in My promises, in My love and care for you and yours. I am with you always, even to the end of the earth, even for eternity. No matter what happens or doesn’t happen, know that I am always here, I will always love and care for you, and I will never fail you. Keep trusting Me, because I am always there.
This morning, when thinking and praying about some of my own tests of faith and uncertainties, I found myself singing an old Family song which quotes Psalm 121. It was a reminder to me about the Lord’s faithfulness and of His promise to keep us throughout our lives.
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: He that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: He shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.