The Mountaintop Dream
I had a wonderful dream about a mountain – a new year’s gift, perhaps. It was one of those special dreams – vivid and significant. I prayed about it and asked God to help me understand what it might mean, then shared it with a few friends. When it still filled my thoughts after a couple months, I went to my computer to put it in writing. When I went to name the file, I was surprised to find a previous “mountain” entry! Intrigued, I quickly read through it. With a grin and a sigh, I immediately chalked it up to one of those sweet, amazing God things. How had I forgotten about this? Maybe it was meant as a prequel? Whatever the case, the two messages seemed connected, so this post is my attempt at committing it to memory and posterity.
Here are my thoughts from over a year ago (when the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions were still in full force).
When the mountain looms before you and the darkness overwhelms you, wait for the dawn.
My husband and I have been watching The World's Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji. I’ve lost count of all the times we declared, “why would anyone sign up for this?!” Grueling days with little sleep over treacherous terrain, why do it? Adventure and challenge? Each team dealt with its own struggles, and none wanted to quit. Near the end of the race, each of the remaining 4-man teams were challenged to scale a mountain cliff. One family team broke down saying they didn't have it in them to scale another wall. They sadly radioed headquarters and waited for a helicopter to rescue them.
In the last few months, I’ve heard many say that they feel like giving up. Dealing with all the stress and anxiety and trying to be a peacemaker amidst shocking social tension is exhausting. We cry out, “LORD God, this mountain is too big; it’s too high; it’s too hard!” On days like these, we may absolutely want to throw our hands up and quit. Just quit. Air lift me out - I’m done!
Fortunately, when I’m at my wit’s end, my sister often sends me a song. She has a knack for doing that – just when I’ve no strength left and not even strength to reach for the Master’s hand, He sends a lifeboat. Once, when I was very sick and had little life left in me, she brought a cd to my house. As “Shout to the LORD” played, my strength was renewed. Recently, she sent a song that relayed the story of Jericho. Imagine how tired the Israelites were after marching around the city for 7 days! They must have been exhausted and felt like nothing was happening. Surely, some of them felt like giving up! But they didn’t. With a shout, the walls fell down and they took the city. It wasn’t by their might. It wasn’t something they would have ever even dreamed up. Only God in His sovereignty could have worked that out.
So it is with us. When the mountain in front of us is small, we can figure a way up and over. But when it’s looming so high that we cannot see the top, we have to look to someone else for help.
This year’s mountain dream fortified me with renewed determination. It quickened my spirit like the strength of a song. It was a lovely dream and very tangible, as most lovely dreams are wont to be. The opening scene took place at a beautiful resort where I was surrounded by loved ones - a wonderfully comfortable place. I quickly realized that the resort somehow embraced a mountain. The peak seemed incredibly near and appeared quite easily accessible, beckoning me to reach its top. However, as I shared my zeal for the task, many around me did not think it a wise idea. They questioned my sanity, concerned about my ability and my safety.
Remarkably, a pastor friend heard about the plan and confidently assured me that he would make it happen! He quickly located and introduced me to a chef that would accompany us and provide meals on the journey. The pastor’s wife, although hesitant at first, also agreed to join us. Excited and eager to set out, I began collecting appropriate gear. Just one thing was missing. I needed the right shoes. I had hiking sandals, but they wouldn’t do. It was obvious I needed warmer, sturdier shoes to deal with the terrain of the snowcapped mountain. A search ensued. The pastor’s wife helped me try to find the right shoes. Even those who had reservations about the journey joined the search. I continued searching every shop looking for appropriate shoes, and that is where the dream ended.
Pregnant with symbolism and meaning, I wondered what message the Holy Spirit was trying to relay. As I prayed and mulled over it the following morning, He revealed this directive.
There is a journey to prepare for. It will not be easy. It will take effort and commitment and the right tools. But God has authorities/leadership in place to help. There will be food for the trek – good food - plenty of provision. Some may doubt, but we are so close to reaching the summit! It will be exciting, and it will be worth the time and effort. I will keep my zeal and fervor and persuade others to help.
I’m still praying on and contemplating the significance of the shoes, but several interesting perspectives have developed so far. As God in His providence would have it, my Bible study group was just beginning Priscilla Shirer’s book, “The Armor of God.” This figurative set of armor from Ephesians 6 includes a belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, and shoes of peace.
The New King James version of the Bible translates it this way: “having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15).” A study mate came upon a very insightful view of this verse from Mary Ellen Wright’s blog on the armor.
To Shod means to bind under one’s feet, to be in bonds, to tie, to wind, to knit or be at one with. It also has to do with your walk, or how you walk out your life from day-to-day. The word Gospel means glad tidings or good news of the kingdom of God. The word Peace is (the Hebrew word) shalowm (shaw-lome’). Shalom is more than just simply peace; it is a complete peace. It is a feeling of contentment, completeness, wholeness, well-being, and harmony. Shalom (also) means . . . health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. https://maryellenwrites.com
Preparation implies action. There will be peace and provision with every step IF our feet are shod with the PREPARATION of the gospel of peace. The New International Version says “with your feet fitted with the readiness.” We must prepare to share the gospel of peace; we must be ready. As we share this glorious, good news that Jesus is LORD, He shares shalom with us.
So now what? Where do I find my hiking shoes? I'll start by binding God’s word to my heart, by studying the scriptures. I will walk knitted with, bonded with, and IN Jesus, who is the Word made flesh. He is our peace. Then, as Priscilla points out at the end of her study, cover it all with prayer. That’s how we will begin our trek up the mountain, in Christ, with prayer, in peace, in a state of readiness.
I’m expectant, hopeful, and curious to see this dream’s fulfillment. We often plead for mountains to be moved. After all, if we have faith of a mustard seed, Jesus said we can tell the mountain to be cast into the sea (Mark 11:22-23)! But what of the thrill in actually climbing the mountain? Take Moses, for example. He went up Mount Sanai (Exodus 19, 33) and remained on the mountain for 40 days, communing with God. After his exhausting encounter with King Ahab and the idol worshipers of the land, Elijah obeyed God’s voice and traveled up the same (possibly) mountain. There God met with him, encouraging and strengthening him (I Kings 19). Jesus often withdrew to a mountain to pray. He took Peter, James and John up a high mountain where they met with Moses and Elijah. It was there Jesus was transfigured and God spoke to them (Matthew 17). I’ve often wondered why we have the impulse to climb mountains. “Because it’s there” seems a silly answer. Maybe it’s because our perspective changes drastically when we look down from greater heights. We see things a little more like God does – a birds eye view, the big picture.
Oh my friend, that is what I hope for: to encounter God - to commune with Him, to see with His eyes. Then share the good news and Shalom with the world so they also encounter Jesus, seeing the world through Him and thus transforming our perspective from chaos to order. Peace. Joy. Love. It’s not just an ephemeral dream. God doesn’t deal in fantasy. It’s what we are looking forward to, what we put our hope in! Do we believe God’s word is true? “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).” Because He said so, we can do hard, courageous things, and still have peace. Not like the world has, but peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).
For now, I’ll continue putting on all the pieces of armor and fitting my feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace - the good news that Jesus is LORD. Constant in prayer, with every step I will let the Word be a lamp to my feet and I will purpose in my heart walk in Shalom - the absence of conflict and war, the presence of God, the completeness of tranquility. I hope you join me in the preparation. Let us follow Jesus’s example who “for the joy set before Him” endured. Any afflictions will be, as the song says, “eclipsed by glory.” Amen and amen.
LORD spur us on to good works. We remain in you, anchored in your Word. We are rooted and grounded and nestled in you. You hem us in, behind and before. Thank you for Shalom peace. Thank you for meeting every need and showing us your glory on the mountaintop, renewing our minds and changing our perspective to match yours. Glorify your name in all the earth.
Resources and References:
Hebrews 12:2 Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. NIV
Ephesians 4:1-3 Therefore I, the prisoner united with the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called.
2 Always be humble, gentle and patient, bearing with one another in love, 3 and making every effort to preserve the unity the Spirit gives through the binding power of shalom. CJB
Ephesians 4:12 Their task is to equip God’s people for the work of service that builds the body of the Messiah. . . CJB
14 Therefore, stand! Have the belt of truth buckled around your waist,[b]put on righteousness for a breastplate,[c]15 and wear on your feet the readiness that comes from the Good News of shalom.[d]16 Always carry the shield of trust, with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the Evil One. 17 And take the helmet of deliverance;[e] along with the sword given by the Spirit, that is, the Word of God; 18 as you pray at all times, with all kinds of prayers and requests, in the Spirit, vigilantly and persistently, for all God’s people. CJB