I live in a breathtaking valley, situated between moderate mountains, with a massive lake pooling at the bottom of these mountains. I drive a decent length of this valley every day as I make my way to work.
Each morning I notice the mountains in the far off distance and complement God on his glorious work. This morning the mountains revealed their massive crags as the snow gives way to spring, revealing their natural dips and dives. The morning sun hit the mountain in such a way that a massive hillside and valley of the mountain was highlighted, a part of this mountain I’ve never noticed before. I remarked on its beauty and felt God say, “You should have heard the Earth groan as it made this mountain. Beauty is not made without pain and movement.” I imagined the earthquake and the movement the ground succumbed to as this mountain was formed, the loud groanings and deafening sounds it must have made.
Much of life and the world around us causes us to reflect inward, or should anyhow. I visualized my own earthquakes and groanings that have formed new beauty and formations within me. Inner beauty is not formed easily, nor is the process beautiful. It is often done through earth-shattering moments or floods of water, eroding away the pieces of us that are not foundational, causing deep emotional groanings within us, and sometimes out of us.
The mountain I was admiring this morning suffered a massive forest fire a few years back, which has left the mountain scared and naked. The crags and cracks I now admire from some distance away would not have been visible without the stripping away of this baptism of fire. The process of refining often leaves us feeling naked and exposed, thus causing us to fight and push back against it, afraid of what might be revealed. What we cannot understand in the process of this refining fire is the beauty of the barren rocks and crags can then be exposed, reflect the light and shadow so much better than the coverings we place over it. The true nature and foundation of the mountain is thus exposed, and we can now admire its beauty from miles away.
Our human nature tells us to cover up, avoid the difficult and present the version of us we believe to be the most presentable. As nature will often remind us, the forces of creation cannot be stopped, whether fire, flood or shaking or turmoil within us. Our resistance to this refining will only make the process more painful and difficult. Yes, we may feel naked and exposed for a little while, but when we are shown, through the light of Christ, that our crags and valleys are presented in magnificent glory, we understand that the refining fire was worth it, that our perceived foundation, once eroded away, was never attached to our true identity. The freedom this brings also sparks new life and a relief that our burdens are now lifted, exposing the ground to new light, new growth and new admiration for miles away.