Move that Mountain

In my young life, we traveled around the country in a covered wagon drawn by two slow but faithful horses. On a trip we were making from Southern California into Oregon, we stopped one night in the foothills, with a high mountain range before us. A man at our camping place looked over our horses and our heavily loaded wagon.

“You’d better turn around and go back,” he said. “Those horses will never pull that wagon up the steep road over the mountains.”

My father smiled, “I’ll turn around and go back when I have to,” he said, “but not without having made an effort.”

After the man had gone, I pulled at my father’s sleeve, “Why don’t we all have faith, and pray for the mountain to be removed?” I asked.

My father sat down at my level. “That’s just what we’re going to do.” he replied. “We’re going to remove that mountain as far as we’re concerned by going over it.

“But the man said we couldn’t.” I countered. “Wouldn’t it be better to ask to have it taken away? Jesus said it could be done.”

“I think there is a little misunderstanding on your part there,” my father said. “I think He meant anything that was a mountain to us. Like right now, this difficulty of getting over this mountain. Do you understand?”

“I’m not sure,” I said.

“Well, put it this way. God put the mountains where they are and many people enjoy them. Think what we’d be doing to people if we could actually remove them. Jesus wouldn’t want us to do things like that. So what Jesus meant was the mountains we make for ourselves. These are the difficulties and our problems. If we have faith enough, we can remove them,” explained father.

I thought about that the next morning as I looked up at the steep, rocky trail that wound around and around, back and forth.

As we started out, father called all of us children out of the wagon, except mother who would control the brake. Father talked to the horses in a low comforting tone, telling them that he himself would put his shoulder into it as well. The children knew if anything went wrong, they were to put rocks behind the wheels to hold it from rolling back.

Up and up those horses pulled. Father gave them frequent breaks to rest them, then they would pull again. Up and up the family continued with their cargo, soon to scale right over the top.

Father had faith the mountain would be removed for him, and yet he worked with the horses. He put his shoulder to the wheel and pushed all he could to help the load on the horses. As we camped that night under the trees by a little stream, I asked him more about my question.

“If God had meant to do everything for us, he wouldn't have given us hands and feet and brains. He expects us to do our part to show we really have faith, that we really want what we are asking for.”

My father’s words ran through my mind that night. They became part of me as any new idea has a way of doing. They formed a pattern, and in time I began to use the lesson they brought to me. Many times I kept my shoulder to the wheel and helped push the weight to make someone else’s load easier. God never failed me and I never cease to be thankful that I learned that lesson early in my life.

– Enola Chamberlain, Guide, Jan. 1967