Psalm 48. The Breathtaking Rockies!

Today’s Lectio Divina: Excerpts from Psalm 48. (MsgB)

God majestic, praise abounds in our God-city!
His sacred mountain, breathtaking in its heights—earth’s joy.
Zion Mountain looms in the North, city of the world-King.
God in His citadel peaks impregnable.

Circle Zion, take her measure, count her fortress peaks,
Gaze long at her sloping bulwark, climb her citadel heights—
Then you can tell the next generation detail by detail the story of God,
Our God forever, who guides us till the end of time.

Being from Iowa has its distinct advantages. Since we have only lush green cornfields, beautiful rolling hills, gorgeous oak and maple trees covered with bright fall colors, and mighty, muddy, massive rivers like the Mississippi and the Missouri to look at, we Iowans truly appreciate the opportunities we have on occasion to drive west about 800 miles and gaze at the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

Yes, in case you’ve never visited our Hawkeye State, I must sadly report to you that we Iowans don’t have any mountains here to show you. We do have a city called Mount Pleasant. A little farm town where I was born in 1951. But, sadly, there are no mountains in Mt. Pleasant! Only the annual Midwest Old Settlers and Threshers Reunion which gathers thousands of antique steam engines, threshing machines, and old farm tractors from around the country. But no mountains.

So when I was a kid, my older brother, Eric, and I would pile into the back seat of my dad and mom’s 1956 Chevy or 1962 Buick Skylark (depending on which year we’re talking about) and make our way west on US Highway 34 to Denver. No interstates and rest stops back then, but that was OK because if you had to pee, we’d just stop outside of any Nebraska town (there aren’t that many you know!) and use a fencepost or a tree (there aren’t many of those as well in Nebraska!) to relieve ourselves. Poor Mom, on the other hand, had to wait for the next gas stop! So, after a long first day on the road (are we there yet?) we’d  spend the night in the one highlight city I know of in all of Nebraska. Minden, home of the famed Pioneer Village. I loved that place!

Now, on our second day of driving, as we crossed into eastern Colorado, my brother and I would stop playing barnyard poker (I found 12 cows while you found only 3 horses!) and we would begin scanning the western horizon for what our trip to Colorado was really all about.

The Rockies.

Now, clouds would sometimes become a real deterrent to this ‘watch for the Rockies’ game, but fortunately, in the middle of the summer when we’d usually be making this excursion west, there weren’t many clouds out there in the flatlands to confuse us. Only blue sky and miles and miles of brownish-grey God-forsaken prairie.

What a magnificent feeling when that line of purple mountains began showing themselves on the western horizon. Wow. And that was just the beginning of the fun. My Uncle Jay, Aunt Hazel and cousin Linda, who lived in Denver, would take us up into the Rockies and show us things we’d never get to experience back in Iowa. Amazing stuff, when you can touch a mountain ridge or put your hot & steamy toes into an icy cold mountain stream. Or sometimes, there would actually be snow up there near Golden or Pikes Peak and we’d throw a snowball. Dad, of course, would take pictures of his two goofy kids making snow angels in July.

Somehow when I read Psalm 48 and hear about Mt. Zion and how God lives on His Holy Mountain, I think of my early days visiting Colorado. As an Iowan, I’d love those massive peaks and my ears popping as we drove our 56 Chevy up into the foothills and beyond. I’d love it so much, I’d actually take as many rocks as I could back with me. Big rocks. Little rocks. Shiny rocks with bits of mica that made it look like diamonds. Fool’s gold that sparkled the imagination. Granite pieces that must have been at least twenty million years old. I even found an arrowhead once! So many rocks at times, my dad would have to say, “Marty, stop with the rocks, already…the backend of the Chevy is starting to drag!”

So as I see it, I kinda think that the Israelites of old saw Mt. Zion and God’s Holy Mountain Range like I saw the Rockies when I was a kid. Enthralled with the beauty. Awed by the size. Gasping for air as they climb to the top. A trip they never wanted to end.

As a matter of fact, I remember so well the sad feelings I’d have as I’d look out of the back window of our car watching those beautiful purple mountains of Colorado slowly fade away,  going bye-bye as we drove back home to Mt. Pleasant where there are no mountains. The only thing that helped my sadness was knowing that I’d brought at least 30 pounds of God-rock back with me, stowed safely away in dad’s trunk!

Clunk. Clunk. It’s OK, Dad. That noise was just a big rock hitting the spare tire!

Ah yes. The Rockies. Certainly God must love to live there on His Holy Mountain! Don’t worry, Poppa, I’ll be back as soon as I can!

My prayer: God, Your creation reflects Your glory. While I know, for a fact, that You don’t live in the mountains of Colorado or in the green cornfields of Iowa, I do know that as I reflect upon the beauty of these things, I taste and see Your beauty as well. May I never grow too old to stop picking up rocks off Your Holy Mountain and bringing them back home with me here in the flatlands of life. For Your name’s sake. Amen.

My questions to ponder: I know, like my Uncle Jay, Aunt Hazel, and cousin Linda of old, God is waiting for me in His foothills, anxious to take me up into His mountains, showing me things I just can’t see down here on the flatlands below. What do I need to do today to remove myself from my monotonous life down here in the dumps and take a road trip onto God’s Holy Mountain?

So what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Psalms?

Over a 50-week period, you and I will take a deeper look at The Psalms: God’s Songbook of Prayers. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Contemplating the Psalms home page for ease of use. Keep in mind that one of the best ways to explore the on-going applications of this blog series is to walk alongside a biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual director who is familiar with how to make material like this part of your overall spiritual formation in God. Many of our directors in our Sustainable Faith-Heartland network are available to companion you in your journey with Jesus. Click here for more info.

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