Wednesday

What Happened on the Mountain -- And Why You Need to Go There Too


Today I’d like to share a deeply personal experience. It happened spontaneously, sneaking up on me like a sudden summer storm. Filled with power and breathtaking beauty, the experience left me wrung out and exhilarated. Like Elijah’s earthquake/wind/fire experience of 1 Kings 19, God spoke to me through the quiet beauty of a mountainside. 

But before I get ahead of myself, I’d like to ask you a question:

What is most precious to you? 

Your children? Grandchildren? Marriage? Ministry? Business? Job? Home? Relationship? Health? Security? We could list a million things, but we must agree—we all have something or someone that’s precious to us. They’re worth fighting for, investing in, and holding onto. 

Yet sometimes we hold on too tightly, and we love too dearly. We love the gifts more than the Giver. 

Abraham understood this when God called him to offer his son—his only son—on a mountain top altar. With supernatural faith, he laid what was most precious upon the wood and stone, trusting that the God who could raise the dead would also make good on his promises. 


As I walked the wooded trails at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, North Carolina, I noticed a carefully arranged pile of stones sitting on a stump by the path. I recognized it as a modern-day version of the Israelites’ “stones of remembrance.” 

You’ll remember that when God parted the Jordan River to allow the Israelites to cross on dry land into the Promised Land, he commanded men to take up 12 stones from the (now) dry riverbed. 

"Set them up as a remembrance,” God said, and “when your children ask you, 'What do these stones mean?' tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. . . These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever” (Josh. 4:6-7). 

Studying the stones, I wondered what miraculous deliverance they represented and which pilgrim had left them there. 


Farther down the trail, I took a less-traveled path and stumbled upon an intriguing sign: The Altar. I followed the arrow to a shady grove and a circular enclosure. A stone altar stood in the very center. 

In the silence of the woods, I heard the Lord speak to my heart: 

Those burdens you’ve been carrying? Those hopes, fears, dreams, and sorrows? The good things you hope for and the bad things that keep you awake? They’re too heavy for you

I nodded my head in silent agreement. Then the voice spoke again to my heart. 

But they’re not too heavy for me. Why don’t you lay them down? 

Lay what’s most precious upon the altar. 

Trust me. 

I knew the Holy Spirit spoke truth. I also knew, like the children of Israel, that my memory is short and that living sacrifices like to crawl off the altar, so I gathered stones of remembrance to symbolize each precious thing I wanted to surrender to the Lord. 

I chose a two-toned stone to represent my marriage—two very different people united into one flesh. I found a knobby stone with lots of texture to symbolize my ministry. A flat white stone reminded me of paper, so I chose it to represent my writing. 

I hunted for stones for each of my daughters and their husbands. Two little round rocks reminded me of the white stones my granddaughters like to collect. Finally, by faith, I selected several tiny pebbles to represent my unborn grandchildren. 


Because a sign near the stone wall asked visitors not to enter the enclosed altar area, I chose a tree stump as my holy place. One by one I laid the stones upon my “altar,” calling each beloved’s name as I surrendered them to the Lord. 

With each stone I released, I felt my spirit lighten.

I don’t know what burdens you’re carrying today. Maybe you’re bowed under the weight of a prodigal child or a broken marriage. Perhaps an unfulfilled dream or a hope that’s long in coming has discouraged you. Maybe you’re single and longing for a spouse or barren and deeply desiring a child. 

Whatever dream, fear, or desire steals the joy from your days and the sleep from your nights, it’s time to lay it down. Give it to God. Let him carry it. His shoulders are broad, and his arms are strong. You can trust him to do what’s best. 

But you must surrender. God is a gentleman. He won’t pry your fingers off your treasure. 


It is my prayer that you will find peace and joy in trusting God with what is most precious. 

“So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided’” (Gen. 22:14).















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