Towards The Mountain


This past June, I recently road tripped with my dad from Denver to Las Vegas. Driving through landmarks like the Rocky Mountains and Zion National Park, I was awestruck. The great stones and valleys and forests and rivers evoked a sense of wonder that I've rarely felt in the past, A stirring that moved me to laugh and to pray and to write and to sing. A stirring that also made me want to sit silently and reflect. It reminded me of the moment in "The Fellowship of the Ring" when the fellowship of hobbits, humans, elves, and dwarves floated down the River Anduin through the Gates of Argonath, otherwise known as the Pillars of Kings (#LOTRwiki). I couldn't help but stare and gasp with each sight. All in all, it was a good time with my dad and God. 

Probably the most surprising aspect of our trip was when we drove over the peaks of the Rocky Mountains. I'd always visualized a mountain to culminate into a sharp, triangular point. That was the way I remember them being drawn and presented to us as a kid - only one person could be at the top at a time. But this was not the case. When we were at the highest elevations, there were plains of snow and rock and shrubs. There were valleys and hills overflowing with rivers and deer and bugs. There were other trucks and families in minivans and motorists. My dad and I were not alone up on top.

In one of the clearest moments of my life, the Lord spoke - the mountain top is not a peak, but a plain. There is room for everyone.

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them (Matthew 5:1-2) 

In Matthew 5, as His ministry is beginning to pick up steam, Jesus goes up a mountain and sits. There, His disciples and the crowds travel to be where he was. Once the people settled, Jesus goes on to preach, arguably, the greatest sermon in history. He shares the foundations and secrets of His grace, holiness, and plan for His people on a mountain.

Why a mountain? Perhaps because there is enough space to host thousands of people, hungry for God's word. Because there, Jesus can position Himself at a higher elevation so His voice can project and reach even the fringes of the crowd. Because like me, the people would feel the stirrings of awe and worship and reverence as they listened to God, surrounded by amazing scenery. I suspected there was another. 

Throughout the Old Testament, the Lord brings prophets and leaders of Israel to meet with Him in the mountains. From Abraham and Moses to David and Elijah, the mountains served as a testament of God's power and the sacred meeting place between Him and His chosen servants. When Jesus came into our world, He also brought people to the mountain. However, He expands the invitation from one or two individuals to large crowds of people. After the resurrection of Christ, this invitation expanded further to include Gentiles, Greeks, and Romans.

I came back down from the mountains with a simple truth: God wants all of us on the mountain with us. He desires to meet with all of us. Yes, He enjoys having our personal relationship. But I am convinced that what would bring Him greater joy would be for His children to share His love and invitation to those who haven't met Him yet. There is room for all of us to be at the top. There is room for all of us to succeed and to enjoy intimacy with Christ. There is room for all of us to enjoy the true victory and satisfaction found only in Christ. If this is true, then why not shine the light of Jesus and share the joy of the Lord with others? 

I used to care so much about being respected by others. I used to care so much about whether the people around me lived up to the expectations and standards I set up as "righteousness." I used to view other Christians as rivals in the game of church leadership. But I don't want to live like that anymore. By His grace, I have seen a glimpse of the Lord's mountaintop. And I have seen that it is good. It is fruitful. And it is spacious. As I transition into a new season, my prayer is that the children of God would seek to fellowship and uplift one another more and more. That we would work together to love and serve the poor, the oppressed, and the marginalized in this life. Lord, help us to take part in helping your Church unify as Your bride and people!

Daniel Lee (@danielslee1991) is currently a resident at UCLA School of Dentistry. He loves what-if scenarios, short stories, one-on-one conversations, crown preps, and people who feel free to be themselves. He openly dreams of becoming the first dentist, minister, rapper, and comedian combo for Jesus.

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