The last time I heard from the Lord I was on a mountain in Estes Park. I wrote about the experience last summer in Colorado, but I guess I never published the story. Too chicken. Plus, how cliche? A mountaintop conversation with God!
I know, right?
He told me, “Come down off the mountain, we’ve got work to do.”
Well, Tuesday morning it happened again. Only I’m not in Colorado, I’m at home in Austin. Austin does not have mountains, but it does have a mount (which sort of debunks the whole everything is bigger in Texas schtick).
Twice this fall I’ve had a nudge, a small whisper, to go to the top of Mount Bonnell. Twice I’ve rolled my eyes at the inkling and told the cuckoo bird in my head to back off.
Mount Bonnell is gorgeous—the highest point in Austin with views that overlook the entire city and the Colorado River (which for some reason we call Lake Austin). It’s certainly a tourist destination, but not somewhere I frequent often, if ever, in the midst of my busy routine. Funny, because Mount Bonnell is literally on my beaten path.
Tuesday, on my way home from Lamplighters Leader’s meeting, I heard the whisper again, “Go to Mount Bonnell.” And I went. I needed to hear from the Lord again in a desperate, longing way, and I figured if I was crazy at least I’d get a bird’s eye view of the city I love and the benefit of climbing all those stairs to get to the top.
Turns out our Bible study lesson this week (Genesis 22) is where Abraham takes Isaac to the mountain to sacrifice him. It’s Abraham’s greatest test. You know the story where the father prepares an altar to sacrifice his one and only son. But, Abraham’s obedience is what God wanted, not the death of Isaac, which in the end was a sacrifice only God could make. All this is weighing heavy on my heart and I’m playing it over and over in my mind, slowly getting it. Slowly. . .
I get to the top of the mount and the first thing I see is a table. It’s a picnic table, but I’ll be damned if it didn’t look just like an altar to me. Nestled under the massive oaks at the end of a small path, it wasn’t full of tourist eating from brown bags, although it was almost straight up noon. Before I went to the alter that I know I was called to, I climbed a dozen or so more steps to the tip top of Mount Bonnell. All this grandeur and beauty and I never take advantage of the view.
My perspective shifted from my tiny, self-absorbed, compartmentalized, confined world to the wide open space of the Creator’s landscape.
A very friendly tourist was eager to take my photo. He didn’t speak English and I politely told him no thank you, but on second thought decided I did want to capture this moment. I hadn’t made it to the alter yet, but somehow I knew this was one of those marker moments. Watershed.
The tourist took my picture and literally disappeared. I turned back to soak in the view and went the few steps back to the alter. I bowed my head and prayed forgiveness for my controlling nature. I confessed I was striving, doing, aiming, reaching for things that only God could provide. I was trying too hard in all aspects of my life. I made a list, right there on the altar. The specifics aren’t important, but they were the biggies you might image – relationships, ministry work, writing, all the dreams I’ve been chasing. In sloppy, bullet point, tear-stained ink I laid it all out and gave it to the Lord.
I heard His voice. The one I hadn’t heard since summer. The voice I came to hear. Only this time it was a conversation, and it went something like this:
Here I am, Lord. Thank you for your perspective at the highest point in Austin. You called. I came. You delivered. You are infinitely larger than I can see in my hovel. Forgive my radical disobedience. For not tending to what you have entrusted to me. I’ve gotten side-tracked, seeking affirmation in the world, approval from man. Jesus, I lay down these things most dear to me at this altar. It’s all yours. Re-order my life for You. You are the Author, edit your story.
“I am teaching you so you can teach others.”
But it hurts, Lord.
(I have to admit, I felt embarrassed to tell the Father about hurt)
What do you want me to teach, Lord?
I see what man has made, Lord. The city.
“This is what man can do.”
“This is what I can do. This is who I AM.”
But, this river is man made too, into a lake, Lord.
“Kristin, what do you know about me to be TRUE?”
You are the River of Life, Lord.
“Yes. I am teaching you, so you can teach others.”
Am I making this up, God? I’m feeling a bit crazy.
“You are my beloved. With you I am well pleased.”
Will you edit my life, Lord?
“I just did.”
What do I do I leave at this altar?
“All of it.”
But, then what do I do?
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.”
Yes, Lord. But, what next?
“Come down off the mountain, we’ve got work to do.”
I love you, Jesus.
“I love you, too. Now, go home. You have work to do.”
Will you help me be obedient, Lord?
“Every step of the way.”
As part of Lamplighters Bible Study, I am sharing my own stories. Prompted by the weekly Scripture from Genesis and led by the Holy Spirit, I will share as we go and invite you to do the same. Each week after doing the inductive portion of the study– the lessons are available online– I’ll set my timer for 20 minutes and write the story on my heart.
From Genesis: Tell Me the Story
Lesson 10 (Genesis 22)