Story

Kansas & Mount Zion

December 18, 2016

If you could live anywhere in the United States, where would you choose to live?

Earlier this year, my husband Josh and I were faced with this question. We had been living in Asia, and it was clear God was moving us back to the States. But where in the States? Josh has his own internet company and works from home so our options were wide open. We pulled up a map of the United States and literally started praying over it as we researched different locations.

“Mountains,” I said. “I have to live near mountains. My only requirement is that we live near mountains.”

Fair enough, right?

“Beauty inspires me. Mountains help me connect with God. I grew up in the mountains; mountains are in my blood.”

Josh likes mountains too. Who doesn’t like mountains? So we narrowed down our search to locations with mountains. New England, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, North Carolina…where else?

So many beautiful mountains to choose from!

One morning our search was interrupted by an email from one of my closest friends, who lives in Kansas. “I think you should check out Kansas City,” she said. “I think you would love it here…and tell Josh we have Google Fiber.”

I dismissed it immediately. I love my friend to death, and living near her would be beyond amazing. But no. Nope. Not even an option. It didn’t meet the requirements. I knew nothing about Kansas except that there are zero mountains in Kansas. Zero mountains. That’s all I needed to know.

She got Josh’s attention with Google Fiber, though, and just for kicks he started researching Kansas City.

“Um, Leah, look at these houses. We could actually afford a decent house in Kansas. Oh, wow. The business taxes in Kansas are better than anywhere else we’ve looked…”

He couldn’t be serious.

“But what about mountains? No. I would rather live in a falling down shack near mountains than in a mansion with no mountains.”

Over the top of his laptop he gave me the look that said, I Iove you but I don’t think you thought that statement you just made all the way through.

“I think we should consider it,” he said.

Microsoft Word - Christmas in Kansas.docx

I was all torn up when I went to bed that night. Surely God wouldn’t ask us to move to Kansas. As I tried in vain to sleep, for some reason my mind kept circling around the idea of Mount Zion.

God loves mountains, too. So much that He has a special, sacred mountain He has set aside as His own: Mount Zion. In the Old Testament God chose it for His dwelling place. It is the symbol of the city of God, the New Jerusalem, which will be established on the New Earth. The Scriptures are full of verses about God and His people loving and longing for Mount Zion.

If God chose a mountain for His forever home, surely it made sense for us to choose a mountain for our home.

The next morning I woke up before the roosters, opened my laptop, and pulled up all the verses I could find on Mount Zion.

I was going to make a biblical case for moving to the mountains.

[This is a true story.]

Just as I expected, I found verses upon verses speaking of the beauty and significance of Mount Zion. God loves Mount Zion. God chose Mount Zion! My mountain case was going to be strong.

Triumphantly, I took a break from scribbling down Mount Zion references and jumped over to Google Images to look at some pictures of Mount Zion.

But as soon as I saw the pictures my entire “biblical case” for living near mountains fell apart in shreds.

I was devastated.

Because Mount Zion is actually not a very tall or impressive looking mountain at all.

[Google it.]

I had seen pictures of it before, but still in my mind’s eye Mount Zion was a huge, majestic, glorious towering mountain. The Bible speaks of Mount Zion as if it’s the grandest mountain in the world.

In reality, it’s small. It doesn’t even really fit into my “mountain” category at all. It’s more of a little hill.

In that moment, as I scrolled through the images, God pierced my heart.

He spoke to me in a way I will never forget, and tears began to stream down my face.

Whose beauty are you seeking, Leah? Mine or that of a mountain?

Mount Zion is precious and sacred and beautiful and grand not of its own merit, but because I chose it for My dwelling.

Like you are precious and beautiful because I chose you.

Haven’t you learned yet to peer beneath the surface?

Haven’t you learned yet to seek Me not in the heights, but in the unexpected places?

God wanted to hijack my heart, and I let Him. Later that morning I wrote Him a poem to say I was willing. I was willing to let go of the beauty of the mountains to seek the beauty of Jesus, if that’s what He wanted me to do.

Microsoft Word - Christmas in Kansas.docx

This Christmas we’re all settled into our beautiful new home in Kansas and as I stare into the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree I’m filled with wonder. Because we absolutely love it here. And you know whom we’ve already found here in Kansas?

We’ve found Jesus.

In the warmth of our new church, in the love of new friends, in the special ways we’ve seen Him at work around the city, in the quiet peace of our new home.

And to be honest since we’ve arrived I’ve hardly thought about mountains at all.

The most beautiful and precious treasures of God are always hidden in the places we at first least expect.

In the womb of a virgin, in a small town called Bethlehem, in a humble stable, in a manger, on a cross…

In what unexpected places might Jesus be asking you to seek His presence and beauty this Christmas?

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” I Samuel 16:7

He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held Him in low esteem. Isaiah 53:2-3

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11

Microsoft Word - Christmas in Kansas.docx

Mount Zion.

Of all the mountains He could have chosen for His presence, His throne…

 You?

 Barely a mountain.

 A hill!

 

 Where is your splendor, your majesty to adore?

At first glance I am undone,

 Disappointed, forlorn.

 

 The lush beauty and snowcaps, the Zion of my dreams?

I was sorely misled and mistaken.

 So it would seem.

 

 And yet…

 Why can’t I look away?

 Why, when I gaze at you, do tears of love come anyway?

Like the coldest and cleanest of waters, you quench my soul.

 The sweetest wine, the richest fat…

 You invite me to partake from your royal bowl.

 

 Higher mountains move me, yes,

 But leave me writhing with longing and pain.

 

 You,

 You quiet, unassuming little hill,

 Chosen,

 Loved,

 Holy,

 Home!

 You fill.

 

 Treasure oozes out of your dry pores and sparse, bristly trees,

 A lavish abundance I can’t comprehend

 But my heart sees.

 

 Bashan* envies your dignity and is outshined by your royal robe.

 She bows at your quiet strength unshakable against any foe.

 I know the world will pass you by, seeking higher and more striking views.

But I, dear beloved little Mount of God,

 I will stand still.

 

 *a towering neighboring mountain range, Ps. 68:14-16

 

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  • Elizabeth O. December 26, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    Hey Leah,

    What a well-written blog post and beautiful poem! Wow! I didn’t know you were such a poet. So glad to hear Kansas feels like home. Maybe that’s what Dorothy was talking about all along. : ) I wish you the best in the New Year!

  • Deneen December 20, 2016 at 8:04 am

    Leah, I am so thankful that you shared that story and how God changed your perspective and your heart. I have been wondering how you felt about settling in Kansas City- your poem is beautiful. We didn’t manage to get Christmas cards out this year, but please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers.

    Have a faith- and joy-filled Christmas!
    Deneen

  • Becky December 19, 2016 at 10:24 pm

    Leah, we are thrilled you’re blog is up and running. We are so thankful to have you and your precious family living and worshipping and ministering together with us. You have already opened your home and hearts to us and we are blessed this Christmas by your love and friendship!

  • Chuck And Judy December 19, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    Beautiful Leah. Wishing you Josh and your beautiful children a blessed Cristmas. We miss you all

  • Kim December 19, 2016 at 3:36 pm

    That’s beautiful Leah!

  • Lori Essick December 19, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    Leah… Thank you for sharing your heart and story… Its inspiring!
    Have a very Merry Christmas in Kansas!:)

  • Della Renecker December 19, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    That is so beautiful. Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year. Della