A Forecast of Faith

June 28, 2012 | Caitlin Newell

I’ve lived a decent amount of time now on the side of a mountain and I feel that I can accurately say it is awesome. Not awesome in that it is “cool,” or “rad” - as these hip kids are prone to saying these days. But literally, I stare out my window, walk to work, hike the forest, and look around me in awe.

And the past few days - nay, week - have shown me a very interesting thing about this mountain, as well as a very interesting thing about God.

I’ll begin with the weather.

Weather here is, to put it lightly, fickle. 

I may wake up to sunshine, be greeted by dense fog on my way to breakfast, walk through rain after my morning shift, and sludge through snow en route to lunch. That is the reality of living on the mountain. You have to be prepared for all kinds of weather, because you simply do not know what will happen. 

“Therefore, put on the full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13

Also, a fun thing about the weather is that it determines the amount of people who visit. Sunny days? Great tourist spot. Rainy days? People tend to stay away. Foggy days? People just straight up complain.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

Curiously, around here, the weather tends to clear up at night, when people are least likely to enjoy it. For example, all day today, we had fog. Thick, nasty, fog. I couldn’t even see the parking lot, let alone the glorious mountains that surround me. But now, if I were to walk outside, the clouds are moving out enough to catch rare glimpses of Rainier.

“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not have, we wait for it patiently.” Romans 8:24

But perhaps what I have enjoyed most about the mountain, is simply the presence of the mountain itself. Many days, even though sun may reach Paradise and Longmire, we cannot see the mountain above us. I get used to reveling in the beauty of the Tatoosh mountain range that faces us from the south, and just remind myself that a volcano exists. But forget the size of it. The sheer magnitude, the beauty, and the overarching domination - of the mountain. It’s easy to, when there are so many things to see even with the mountain covered by clouds. But when she comes out - even just a little - and I am reminded of how big it is... I remember. I remember and I stare and I even still gasp, after a month of being here, at just how beautiful this mountain is. 

“Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.” Job 38:2-4

Do you see? Do you see the correlation with each of these parts of weather and the verses that follow? How much like a mountain our God is...

If I am not fully, or completely, dressed for the weather - I feel its affects in an adverse way. Similarly, without clothing myself with the armor of God, how am I going to survive the climate of the world I live in? How am I going to withstand the snow on my way to work, and the rain on my way home, if all I have are sandals and good intentions?

And look at how we are with the weather - with God. The quality of a day determines what we want to do. I think one of the most interesting things, and incredibly applicable things for this park, was said to me by a guest not too long ago. While serving him for breakfast, we got on the topic of hiking in Mt. Rainier, which he has done for years. He told me that one thing he has learned is to hike the trails and the mountain in every kind of weather, because that is when you fully experience the glory and power of nature. Sure, it can be a lucky and fun thing to enjoy a rare sunny day here, but to dedicate yourself to still seeing and experiencing the beauty of the forest while it rains around you - few do that.

And it reminds me of how we treat God. When things are going well, sure - God is good. But in that rain, that fog? Fewer and fewer make the effort to meet with him. 

Or the fact that things clear up at night, when no one is around to see it become clear. Why aren’t we always watching? Why do we lose hope when something is unseen, and turn away before it is made clear? Seeing the glimpses of Rainier at night, even the little ones, is like that reassurance of hope. Clarity in darkness is the sustainer of patience.

And finally - that striking observation that something is far too large to comprehend. Something, in fact, that I had been sitting beside idly for a while, content to forget. It reminded me of God’s words to Job. “Tell me, if you understand.” But I don’t. Hence, Job’s (mankind’s) penetrating and all-telling silence.

God is like this mountain. Majestic, even when concealed. Affecting life, even when silent. How much the weather has taught me these past days. About my own faith, the faith of mankind, and the worth of patience and hope.

God sits like an anchor in the sky, holding everything up.

"It was a great challenge and stretching experience to learn how to lead and equip others for ministry, not being over-controlling or non-present. In the seminary context, I hope to talk through some of these learning and challenging experiences with my professors."
– Jonathan, Calvin Theological Seminary 2011

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