“I lift my eyes up to the hills – from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.”
I am a little ashamed to admit this, but when I moved to Ronan it took me about a year and a half before I could clearly see the Sheep’s Head in the Mission Mountains. Everyone around here seemed to refer to McDonald Peak with the assumption that everybody else could clearly see the image of a sheep’s head pointed toward the sky in the beautiful mountains that watch over us day and night. I didn’t doubt that there truly was this image up there somewhere but I just could not see it for myself. Like the image of the man on the moon or finding where Waldo is, some people just see these kinds of things quicker than others I guess. Thankfully, the outline of the image was finally pointed out to me so I can now see for myself what so many others have told me about.
The imprint of God’s creative work in our world is kind of similar. It is there, all around us. Nothing exists which was not first, somehow, spoken into being by our Creator. Some of us know and recognize that God is the source of all that exists while others fail to see it for themselves. Try as we might, we just can’t see the image of God in the world that God made. Like seeing the Sheep’s Head, some people can clearly see the work of God in the world right away while others will always struggle to associate the creation with its Creator.
As the snow is beginning to melt off of our mountains, the nose of the Sheep’s Head will be clearly contrasted once again. There are times during the year when this contrast is clear, making it easy to point out to newcomers in our valley the various details of this image on our mountain. Other times of year, though, when the whole range is engulfed in snow for instance, the image of the Sheep’s Head is hardly clear at all. If you didn’t know it was there in the first place you would probably scoff at those talking about a sheep on the mountain, even if somebody pointed it out. This is kind of how it goes for us who believe that God is real and present in creation. There are seasons in our lives when the imprint of God’s work among us is clear as day, making it easy to talk about the presence of God in our world. There are other seasons of life when the work of God in our lives is hard to see for ourselves. Like Sheep’s Head in winter, we trust that our Lord is moving all around us but seeing God’s work for ourselves becomes more difficult. We may clearly rejoice with God when we meet the one we will marry, land our dream job, or see our first-born children emerge with life in their lungs. Yet, for many, it is harder to claim that God is moving in our midst when we lose those we love, struggle to get by from month to month, or fail in any other number of ways.
We here in the Mission Valley know that the image of the Sheep’s Head on our mountains will clearly come into view again, no matter how long our winters are. Though the snow will obscure our view for a time, the peaks will clear up soon. Likewise, God’s love for us will always be revealed in time. It may be hard to see for a season, but the view will always open up again – revealing a pleasantly familiar view of our beloved Creator year after year.
Rev. Seth Nelson, author of The Church Unknown: Reflections of a Millennial Pastor, writes this blog. The blog focuses on the future of the church as well as how God loves and cares for us in the present. He is a pastor in Ronan, Montana.