What to do With Mountains?

This article appeared in the GOSPEL MESSAGE, Winter, 1979

Mountains are difficult to ignore. They shut in the fog and block out the sun. Spring floods, avalanches and rock slides are just a few of the constant reminders of their existence. In Austria, there are mountains nearly everywhere one looks. Someone has said that Austria would be one of the largest countries in the world, if all the wrinkles could be ironed out.

Some people prefer to live in less mountainous areas, but certainly not Austrians. So just what do people do with mountains, who have lived with them all their lives?

The majestic glacier capped "Dachstein," Austria's second highest mountain, is accessible even to the "flatland tourists" via a highway and cable car. The highest, the foreboding "Grossglockner" has been subdued by a scenic highway that snakes its way across the 12,000 ft. peak. Only recently, another mountain was conquered when a ten mile tunnel was blasted through its center.

If they are not climbing them or skiing down their slopes, Austrians are photographing their mountains or showing them off to tourists.

Missions may also be a mountainous experience.

During our fifteen years [this was written in 1979] in Austria we have had many "ups and downs," but as the Lord enabled us to conquer a few mountains, we learned to recognize them as challenges rather than hindrances. There are occasions when we must turn back within sight of the peak, however. Such experiences serve to drive us to our knees in search of answers. At times we must concede that "satan hindered us" (I Thess. 2:18) and on other occasions we can declare that "the Holy Spirit hindered us" (Acts 16:6). Whatever the case, mountain climbing is healthy exercise and a test of faith.

On nearly every mountaintop in Austria stands a "Gipfelkreuz" or "peak cross," a reminder that the mountain has been conquered. Often there is a book in which mountain climbers who reach the peak, proudly sign their names. It is a consolation to know that there is no mountain in Christian experience that has not been conquered by Christ. For this reason those who have knelt at the cross of Mount Calvary and whose names are found written in the Book of Life may well find themselves falling in love with mountains!

Ralph V. Harvey