Memories of a Mountain

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Recently I returned to a place I hadn’t been to in 34 years: Forest Home, a camp and conference center in the San Bernardino mountains. I’d worked there for two summers after high school, first as a groundskeeper, then as dishwasher at the high school camp.

Much has changed around FoHo in three-plus decades: the pool was moved, the teepees of “Indian Village” have been replaced with yurts in what is now simply, “The Village,” and ongoing maintenance has upgraded most of the buildings. But much is the same, too, or at least similar. The Clubhouse, Roundhouse, and dining halls are all in the same places. The lake is still full and wet and green. Black bears still wander the grounds at night, threatening any food or garbage left by unaccustomed city folk!

As I walked throughout the camp, memories flowed from rocks and buildings and the creek running down the valley. In the dining room, I recalled the day we heard that Christian musician Keith Green had died. Outside the kitchen where I washed dishes, I remembered my conversation about faith with a Catholic co-worker. Faces and names came to mind – people who spoke into my faith, challenged me, encouraged me, built me up. The leadership retreat I was part of that weekend opened the door to these memories of God at work not only in my own life, but thousands of other lives over the years.

Throughout the Bible, God tells his followers to remember:

Remember who he is (Exodus 3:15). Remember his commandments (Numbers 15:40). Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy (Exodus 20:18).

When the people of Israel finally crossed the Jordan River and into the promised land, they were to collect twelve stones from the riverbed and place them where they camped next to the river. When their children in future generations saw the stones and asked about them, they would remember how God had led them across the river on dry ground

Jesus told his disciples to remember him whenever they shared in what we now call Communion or the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist.

Sometimes life gets hard: Jobs are lost. A spouse gets sick. A child wanders. A parent dies. And in the midst of the hard, we don’t always see God at work, don’t hear his voice, don’t feel his presence. We forget.

We need help to remember. We need a friend’s eyes to give perspective. We need a counselor’s ears to hear what God is whispering. We need a spouse’s arms to feel God next to us. We need a pile of stones—or a trip back up the mountain—to help us remember what God has done in the past…and what he promises to continue doing.

Are you having a hard time remembering? Who can help you? Where can you go where God worked before? What stone can you touch?

Remember….

2 thoughts on “Memories of a Mountain

  1. Edd Donald

    As usual, beautifully written Randy… and the need to have those milestones, piles of rock, specific markers of life changing or reinforcing events grow as I age.
    I remember an associate pastor who I could always count on to challenge my complacency and state things in a way that made me think of what I always considered ” got it”…. into,” oh I never thought of it that way”… that man has been spreading his unique way of being into the lives of some lucky students in the greater San Diego area…as a sub… not their regular teacher… which makes it even more awesome…sending our love and hugs, bro
    Edd

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  2. Randy Ehle Post author

    Thanks, Edd. I think I’ve heard of that guy you’re talking about. He said the teaching gig is just a different type of pastoring!

    A seasoned pastor—friend and mentor—shared with me recently about how Paul had learned contentedness not just with both abundance and poverty of material things, but with large and small ministry; the same guy who drew crowds and planted churches while traveling all over Asia and Greece eventually found himself confined to prison cells and house detention, where his only audiences were guards, fellow prisoners, and the few friends who could come to visit. Yet he continued to serve and share the gospel. Oh, and he wrote a few things that stuck around a while! Good encouragement for me!

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