by Jacqui Crumrine – Associate Pastor, Worship & Arts
A few weeks ago I wrote part 1 of this blog after introducing the song “Graves into Gardens” at REFUEL in August. I shared that this is, for me, one of those songs that I have really leaned into during this season. I believe that there is nothing better than God, and that He has the power to do incredible things! In my first blog, I left out a few lines, primarily because they didn’t stand out to me. I had no intention of writing a part 2 of this blog. But, ironically, these words now have incredible meaning to me.
I started seminary classes this week. It’s my last year of graduate studies as I look forward to graduation in May (YAY). I was listening to the very first recorded lecture (because, you know, distance learning), and the professor very quickly begins describing a dynamic between the Hebrews and the Philistines. The Hebrews had been told by God to take the land that He had promised them. However, they found themselves up against the Philistine nation that had learned how to use iron in their weaponry and had chariots with iron wheels, which of course gave them a huge advantage over anyone else. So, what did the Hebrew people do? In fear and disobedience, they fled to the mountains for hundreds of years where the chariots couldn’t go, leaving the Philistines to reign in the valley. Ok, I admit that it is not mind-blowing information. But for me it was as I began to see the pieces coming together! The historical context of the verse brings new meaning to some bible verses and this line in Graves Into Gardens. Fast forward a few generations and we see the results of the actions of the Israelites. To their enemies, the Hebrew God was only the God of the hills. He was limited. They believed that God had no power in the valleys because their weaponry was far superior. We hear their taunt in 1 Kings 20:23 “The Israelite gods are gods of the hills; that is why they won. But we can beat them easily on the plains.”
So why is this significant? Because, as we declare this line, we have to know what it means.
“Cause the God of the mountains is the God of the valley. And there’s not a place Your mercy and grace won’t find me again.”
The imagery of mountains and valleys can change throughout scripture. We bring our own experiences of mountains and valleys too. So, understand, that the mountains in this context, became the place where the people were safe and comfortable. They didn’t have to deal with conquering their fears if they avoided it by escaping to the mountains. The mountains were also a place of disobedience because God had told them to claim the promised land. God did give them victories in the mountains, but to truly claim the promise, they had to take to the valley.
The valleys were the places of promise, but they were unable to go there because of their fear, doubt and sin. They acted as if iron weapons and chariots were more powerful than God presence. God had already told them that He would give them victory, but they struggled to believe it and act on it.
But God IS the God of the mountains. He IS the God of the valleys. And there not a place that He can’t go, and that He doesn’t reign.
So, what are your “mountains”? What are the things that give you a false sense of security, but in reality, are keeping you from obedience? Is it financial security? Control of your time and future? Things of this world?
What is your “valley”? What are the things that God is asking you to do, but you are afraid or feel unequipped? God is calling you to live in the promise and know that He is WITH you! “There is nothing better than You!”
Do you believe that the “God of the mountains is the God of the valley”? Do we believe that He can do what He has promised?
As followers of Christ, I wonder if the Church has fled to “the hills”? I wonder if we have lost our sense of urgency in proclaiming and living out the Good News that Jesus Christ has the power to defeat death? I wonder if we have found comfort and have neglected to hear and respond to the cries of those in need.
God does not call us to live in safe places. We are called…in His power and strength…to “Go and make disciples”. If we truly believe that there is nothing better than God, I pray that we live knowing that He is going before us. We are called to build His Kingdom. He reigns in the mountains and the valleys.
Graves into Gardens by Elevation Worship Publishing (CCLI song #7138219)