How Vertical Thinking Transforms Mountains
Living in southeast Texas, where the elevation is barely 140 feet, it can be hard to grasp the true scale of a mountain until you are standing at the base of one. Ouray, Colorado is a picturesque town nestled in a small valley surrounded by the San Juan mountains hosting 14,000-foot peaks. My husband and I went there for our thirty-sixth anniversary.
One of our many hikes was the Ouray Perimeter Trail, a six-mile trek that covers 1,600 feet of elevation gain and loss. It loops the entire town high in the mountains affording stunning views and amazing waterfall experiences, but to get there the trail first goes nearly straight up from the town in a series of steep switchbacks. Standing at the bottom looking up to where we were headed was a bit daunting.
Have you ever faced a mountain in your life? I certainly have, many of them to be exact. I don’t mean mountains like those in Colorado, but mountains of problems, pressures of life, and relational conflicts. I have seen my share, including childhood abuse, an alcoholic father, sibling suicide, infertility, parental dementia, deaths of loved ones, family diseases, and career struggles. I am facing another now and will face many more before my time on earth is finished. Likely you are facing at least one right now too. If you are not, you soon will be.
Facing mountains has taught me many lessons throughout my life, but one, in particular, I want to share with you is how choosing a vertical perspective helps to transform them, for where our eyes go, the mind follows.
A horizontal perspective is a natural one, it is the view that comes readily to you and me. If my thoughts begin there, I look around and see this world and the problems that fill it, and they all look like colossal mountains. This perspective easily leads me to unhealthy thinking and in turn unhealthy emotions.
Looking first at others, my thoughts quickly go to comparison, which turns into jealousy or superiority. Looking first at circumstances, my mind focuses on the problem, which turns into fear, anxiety, or pride. Looking first at an enemy, anyone I am in opposition with, my thoughts turn to division and dominance, winning and losing, and in turn anger or disdain.
For to set the mind on the flesh is death,… (Romans 8:6a)
But if I turn my thoughts to seek a vertical perspective first, I look and see the glory and majesty of God. I see His faithfulness, goodness, justice, and mercy. I see how great He is and how small, but very loved, I am.
When I begin with a vertical perspective, it changes me so that I can look at the horizontal things of my life with right eyes. This in turn helps me respond to them with the fruit of the Spirit rather than the natural fruit of my flesh.
Looking at others second leads to compassion and love. Looking at circumstances second turns to faith, hope, and joy that even if the mountain doesn’t move, God is still sovereign. Looking at enemies second, leads to patience and forgiveness.
…But to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:6b)
My friend, the next time you face a mountain, intentionally turn and look up first. Not at your mountain, but at your God. But should you forget, know that you can turn to seek the vertical perspective at any time.
Once you have spent time with Him in prayer and in the Bible, seeking His viewpoint, you will be equipped with the proper perspective to look at the mountain in front of you. As you do, ask:
Is God bigger than my mountain?
Does He love me and want what is best for me?
Can I trust Him in this?
Will I walk in His ways or mine?
A heavenly perspective has the power to transform a once daunting mountain into a gentle hill that we as children of God can readily traverse with Him at our side. But even when the mountain itself is not transformed, we always are.
Originally from the bayous of Louisiana, she lives in an urban forest in southeast Texas with her husband of 36 years. Though an empty nester, her home and yard are far from empty filled with several rescue dogs and ample wildlife.