Tuesday, July 11, 2006


I live in a flat place. There are a few bumps and rolls that cannot reasonably be considered "hills" and are called such, but for the most part, it is a very flat land.

As I've said before, the problem with living in such a flat place, and a big city in a flat place particularly, is that there is no horizon. Specifically, there's no natural landmarks to generate the notion of "horizon." It's just...flat. The closest approximation is looking out and seeing the furthest crest of a highway overpass or municipal construction project.

But I've travelled other places. I've seen the dry, grassy hills of central Texas and the rolling red hills of Oklahoma. I've seen vast grasslands in Kansas and wooded treelines in Illinois. And I've travelled through Arizonan deserts and New Mexican mountains. I've ridden in windy West Virginia roads cut out of the side of the very living rock, stayed in cabins in the Smoky Mountains. (I've been everywhere, man, I've been everywhere.)

I read a verse the other day in Psalms--"From the ends of the earth I call to You, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I." Now, there are several ways to go with this verse and its interpretation, but this is what struck me most recently:

The problem with living in a flat place is that it's easy to lose perspective about how big you are. Even in a city of skyscrapers, you still feel too big, too powerful. These hulking masses of steel and silvery glass are man-made, man-controlled. Monuments to their human creators.

But when you get outside the city and into the country, where hills become mountains looming with weight and gravity, then you realize how very small you are, and how very big God is.

So as I read that verse, what I heard, what reverberated in my chest is, "Help me realize how small I am, compared to You. Help me find perspective." I know that's not a standard interpretation to a verse that otherwise speaks of deliverance and throwing oneself on the shoulders of a Savior-God.

But I think this lesson serves well, too. Because we get so tied up in what we create and what we accomplish, that we forget who we are, and that we are dust. Sometimes, we need to stand next to a mountain, look up at its dizzying height until we start falling backwards, and meditate on the enormity of the God who promises to hear our prayers and answer our desperate cries for salvation.

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