When the Mountains are Gone

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Today, I read Genesis 7, which contains part of the story of Noah, and I connected with a piece of the story I never had before.

For more than two decades, I’ve lived in places where, if I’m outside, I can likely see mountains. I like that. (A lot.) First, because I love beauty, and mountains are beautiful to me. Second, because I have a horrible sense of direction, and mountains orient me. If I get turned around, I can look for the mountains and feel grounded once again. When I travel to places without mountains, I feel vulnerable, exposed, a bit lost.

Hold that in mind and then read Genesis 7:19 (NIV): “They [the waters] rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered.”

I read that today, and suddenly felt the terror of Noah’s situation. The mountains are gone.

The mountains. Are. Gone.

The landscape under and around Noah has disappeared. Nothing—nothing—remains to orient him, to give him his bearings. He is frightfully alone, with no familiar landmarks to settle his soul.

Do you know this feeling? Have you been through (or are you in) a situation that has wiped out the things you depended on to orient you? (Loss of a job or a friendship, a crisis of health, a move to an unfamiliar region or a new church, a divorce, a death…) Your life’s landscape sustains a seismic shift, and your soul is shaken. You feel vulnerable, exposed, lost. Dis-oriented.

And there’s no end in sight. Genesis 7 wraps up with Noah and his family alone in the ark, surrounded by nothing but water. “The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days,” says Genesis 7:24 (NIV).

Can you imagine? Depending on your life circumstances right now, perhaps you can.

What do you do when you find yourself in that space? How do you (pardon the pun) stay afloat?

What do you cling to when you can’t see the mountains?

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