Mountains & Shovels

A long time friend of mine (Hey Tiff!) recently shared something her dad taught her growing up: “If you ask God to move a mountain, you better bring a shovel.” This concept resonated with me on multiple fronts: God’s provision, the underlying nature of trials, the work involved in transformation, the depth of faith, and the purpose of tools.  Maybe, I over analyzed it. But that’s the nature of wisdom. Simple, but thought provoking. So, here’s to Tiff and her the memory of her dad:

Provision of God

Know that when you face a seemingly impossible task, it is perhaps the greatest opportunity you have to trust God. Let’s not give it lip service though. Instead, let’s call it what it is: a daunting behemoth, impossible to move and the thought of attempting to do so leaves you prone to anxiety and failure.  Chances are that if you are human, you will fail. You will attempt to climb over it, ignore it, bore a hole through it, trade your shovel for dynamite and do more damage than good.

My advice: be still and know He is God (Psalm 46:10). You may not  know if He put the mountain there in the first place or if this is a culmination of reaping a multitude of poor choices you’ve made along the way. But you can know that the Father is still King of the Universe, Lord over mountains (Amos 4:13; Psalm 65:10; Psalms 90:2) and creator of shovels. Quiet yourself, remind your soul who your Father is and approach the base of the mountain.

Nature of Trials

Trials in and of themselves are agnostic. They simply exist.  The true nature is therefore revealed by the one you choose to listen to: God or the enemy. If you listen to God, you will know that His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9), His strength is more than enough (Isaiah 40:28-31; Jeremiah 32:27; Psalm 147:5). There is not a place He has not been, a day He has not seen. God’s ways are higher than ours and utterly non-human. Non-created. New, fresh, unprecedented (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:24).

Yet the omnipotence of God is a concept beyond our mind’s finite ability to understand, so we willingly listen to the enemy. That’s because the message of the enemy appeals to our limited nature and past failures (2 Timothy 2:26; Hebrews 12:1-3). It’s tangible and seemingly logical. The mountain is far too large to move, my shovel will break even if I was stupid enough to attempt to move the mountain in the first place. I have no desire to climb this mountain. This is my life now, forever stuck at the base of the mountain.

Work of Transformation

So often, we are praying for the end result (removal of the mountain) that we fail to see the work that is involved (shovel in hand).  It is almost as if we use God’s omnipotence as a crutch to faith. We know He could just wipe the mountain out, because He is creator. But God desires to transform us, to perfect us (James 1:2-4).  And it is through the trials that we obtain that perfection. It will require that we labor in obedience, not worried about the outcome. Head down, hand on the shovel thrusting and moving dirt to the point of near exhaustion. Our desire is to show the Father we are obedient in the absurd, because we trust Him and we know that all things work to the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).  God doesn’t expect us to move the mountain on our own or for the shovel to last forever. He expects us to trust and obey, allowing a transformation of our hearts and the outcome of the situation time to mature.

Depth of Faith

We know that without faith it impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6; In fact just read the whole chapter).  Stated another way is that God expects us to trust Him as if that trust was the only factor in which a successful outcome hinged on. That’s why He expects us to bring the impossible to the table. It demonstrates our trust in Him.

Purpose of Tools

We were never expected to do it alone. That’s not how the kingdom of God works. Instead, we are gifted with the unexpected to accomplish the unexplainable. Left to our devices, we are nothing more than jars of clay because it is the power of God that persists, not us (2 Corinthians 4:7-12).

King of My Heart

While writing this, a worship song surfaced over an over. There are so many point s in these lyrics that incorporate the struggle of trails and the importance of trusting God. In particular, this phrase resonated with me:

When the night is holding on to me, God is holding on.


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