I glanced out of the window at church on Sunday morning and realised we can see the mountains again.
The beautiful Kyrenia mountains are the permanent backdrop to life in this city. If I get lost (which still happens even after four years here) I look for the mountains to get my bearings; when we’ve been away, the sight of them makes me feel I’m home.
The sky in Cyprus is nearly always blue, so we can usually see those mountains as clearly as can be. Occasionally we have some haze or cloud so they are harder to make out, or even partly covered – but it’s always obvious where they are.
Last week though, an extraordinary cloud of dust descended on the city and we could barely see the buildings down the street let alone a range of mountains 11 miles away. For almost a week, our mountains were completely hidden.
In life there are days when the sky is clear, when you can see God’s face as clearly as your own reflection in a mirror. In my experience there are many more days where it’s cloudy or misty, and you struggle a bit to be aware of his presence or hear his voice. And then, every once in a while there are thick dust days.
No-one has a relationship with God that is easy-breezy mountain-top-experience all the time. Everyone has misty seasons and even thick, thick dust days where it’s hard to breathe and harder to see.
On Sunday morning, as I was struggling to worship after my stressy week of sick children, overdue speeding tickets, broken down cars and general tiredness; feeling guilty and confused because I just couldn’t feel God’s presence as clearly as usual (or as much as everyone else in the room seemed to) I looked up and realised I could see the mountains.
And I heard him whisper:
“Look at those mountains…
Was there one moment, in all of the week that you couldn’t see them, or in any of the times when they’ve been partly hidden from you, has there ever been a moment when you’ve doubted that they were there?”
(And of course, I never have. Mountains don’t just cease to exist because I can’t see them. I have faith in the existence of those mountains!)
“Well then,” he said, “trust me that I am here, whether you can see me or not – you just have to turn to where you know I am, keep walking towards me, and wait for it to rain”
So I’m doing that my friends. I’m turning to where God is, because I know he’s there, even when the outline of his face is tricky to make out. I’m declaring to my heart that he is where he has always been. And it seems to me that this isn’t lack of faith – it’s faith made solid, faith you can walk on.
‘Faith is being sure of what you hope for, and certain of what you cannot see’
If you’re walking blindly towards where you know God is just now, my heart is with you. Take courage. One day it will rain, the dust will be washed away and your view will be clear again. Until then – He is still with you.