On October 25 2009 a huge rock slide closed all four lanes of an expressway that links eastern Tennessee with western North Carolina. Our family has used this road many times, noticing the jagged rock cliffs on the northern side of the highway. In December, friends visiting Asheville, N.C. from Alaska were hindered from traveling to our ministry center because of this blockage.
With that incident fresh in our minds, we were shocked to see another highway rockslide on November 10th. This one was caught on video and shown on the TV news!
Over the years I have driven past this stretch of road many times. The corridor connects east Tennessee with northern Georgia (where my mother grew up). To date, crews have removed around 5,500 tons of debris from this site. The Department of Transportation hopes to have both road-closing “mountains” cleared by April.
Between the dates of these rock slides, I was with a team on a short term mission trip in Cameroon, Africa. In the northern part of the country, the dirt roads are deeply rutted, making driving arduous. One day we noticed the section of dirt road had been smoothed by heavy equipment. Plants and signs decorated the roadsides as the towns prepared for visiting dignitaries. As we pulled to a stop, we saw the celebrated motorcade drive by as everyone waved at the country’s Prime Minister.
Erosion ditches and rock piles remind me of the spiritual obstacles that need to be cleared away for God’s will to be done “on Earth as it is in Heaven.”
This “clearing the road” imagery was used by Isaiah when he predicted how God would remove political and military obstacles so that the remnant of Israel would safely return from their 70 year captivity (Isaiah 40:3-5).
Similarly, John the Baptist came preparing the way for the ministry of Jesus the Messiah:
“As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying:
‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the LORD;
Make His paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled
And every mountain and hill brought low;
The crooked places shall be made straight
And the rough ways smooth;
And all flesh shall see the salvation of God”‘” (Luke 3:4-6).
By divine power, the Lord Jesus removed many obstacles to His ministry. Christ also encouraged His disciples to exercise their faith in God’s promises: “For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says” (Mark 11:23).
David Kuykendall comments about this powerful challenge:
“…The opposition standing in the way of the Holy Spirit teaching believers the life of grace is a three-tiered mountain: the flesh, the devil, and the world. Following the instructions of Jesus, we are to say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea.’ Jesus promises that if we believe what we say, we will have what we say.
“Just as we must continue to obey the five commands that place us under grace [Rom. 6:11-13], we must continue speaking to this three-tiered mountain of opposition to the life of grace in the lives of others.
“As we speak to the mountain, we need to keep in mind Romans 8:2: ‘For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.’ The Holy Spirit never ceases His efforts to teach all believers the message of the life of grace in Christ Jesus. We involve ourselves with Him by being His instrument for teaching His message of grace. We also involve ourselves with Him by speaking to the mountain of opposition to the message of grace in the lives of all believers.”
The same day that heavy rain triggered November 10th’s rock slide, my father had a major car accident on an Atlanta highway. After his car hydroplaned on the expressway, he hit a concrete median. An ambulance rushed him to Grady Memorial Hospital, but the crash left him paralyzed. The next day surgeons operated to repair two vertebrae in his neck. As many people interceded for Dad, God began to mend his body and restore movement. Atlanta’s Shepherd Clinic received him the next week and he continued residential therapy until he “graduated” on December 29th. Dad then entered the clinic’s day program, continuing to be helped by Shepherd’s excellent therapists and facilities. This week he graduates from the day program, able to walk, care for himself, and write. He plans to resume servicing his accounting clients February 10th! Obviously “The Good Shepherd” has been his healer and sustainer throughout this ordeal. Our family gives God glory for removing the “mountain” of paralysis, sustaining the caregivers, and using Dad as a witness of the Lord Jesus.
Friend, what “mountains” are you facing today? How do your problems stand in the way of God’s best for you? May we each surrender to the Lord’s providence and trust the indwelling Christ to live in and through us. Prayer and faith will be powerful resources as God clears the road ahead.
 See video of rock slide: http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2009/nov/11/rock-slide-shuts-down-us-64-through-polk-county/
 David Kuykendall, Speak to That Mountain, Living by Grace e-devotional, www.livingbygrace.org. Copyright © 2000-2005 David Kuykendall Ministries.
Some photos are at http://www.kodakgallery.com/gallery/creativeapps/slideShow/Main.jsp?token=782483159112:1150072823