Looking to the hills …

Nurturing Faith Inc. has many sides, including its faith-based Nurturing Faith Journal and Bible Studies to a website with daily news updates, inspirational blogs, and a publishing arm that produces books.

Mount Ranier in the distance, from Anthony’s at Point Defiance, Washington

Perhaps the most fun side of Nurturing Faith are the Nurturing Faith Experiences, anywhere from two to four trips each year, enabling readers and others to experience God’s creation in new ways, or to explore the land where Jesus walked (late May 2020).

I’m writing from Cannon Beach, Oregon, near the end of this year’s trip to the coastal regions of Washington and Oregon. I would have written sooner, but cell service is spotty here and lodging in national parks doesn’t always offer wifi.

The harbor at Port Townsend, a quaint little town on the Quimper Peninsula.

Our first couple of days were spent exploring a bit of Puget Sound and the mountains of Washington’s Olympic National Park. We enjoyed views of Mt. Ranier in the distance as we drove north from Portland and stopped for lunch at Point Defiance.

The Stellar sea lions put on a much better show than the whales.

After a nice evening and night in Port Townsend, where we could see snowy Mount Baker in the distance, we drove to Port Angeles and spent the morning bouncing around in the very choppy waters around the San Juan islands, just off the Canadian coast. The few brief glimpses of humpbacks were frankly underwhelming and our hands grew numb with cold, but we had fun nonetheless and learned to appreciate the feel of solid ground under our feet in a new way.

Mount Olympus

Driving up Hurricane Ridge to view Mount Olympus and the surrounding mountains was an easy reminder of why the ancients liked to worship on high places, and why biblical stories so often include mountains.

The flood story says the ark landed in the mountains of Ararat. Moses nearly sacrificed Isaac on Mount Moriah. Moses met God at Mount Sinai (also called Horeb) and the Israelites later entered a covenant with God there, according to Exodus.

A blacktail deer on Hurricane Ridge

Moses instructed Joshua to lead Israel in a covenant ceremony on Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim before giving up the ghost after viewing the land of promise from Mount Nebo. Barak (with help from Deborah) led Israel to defeat the king of Hazor at Mount Tabor. David hid from Saul in the mountains of Judea before Saul met his end on Mount Gilboa.

David later consolidated the northern and southern tribes by conquering the Jebusite city that would become known as the City of David, Jerusalem, and the location of Mount Zion. Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, and the prophets called the mountains as witnesses when the castigated Israel for falling short of their calling. The psalmists were enraptured not only by Mount Zion, but also lofty Mount Hermon (probably equivalent to Mount Zaphon) in the far north.

Then Jesus came along, and were was his most famous sermon? On the Mount of Beatitudes. Where was he transfigured? On a mountain. Where did he like to go aside to pray? To any convenient mountain. His crucifixion took place on a hill rather than a mountain, but that doesn’t stop us from singing about “Mount Calvary.”

Standing on a high hill, surrounded by magnificent mountains, we can’t help but be impressed by the grandeur. If we consider the biblical claim that even they were part of God’s creation our awe moves to an even higher plane.

“Glorious are you,” the psalmist sang to God, “more majestic than the everlasting mountains” (Psalm 76:4).

 

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