You can always tell the size of a man by the size of the matters he deals with. It is said that Cutzon Borglum, who blasted the granite of Mount Rushmore into magnificent men, was approached by a sculptor who had worked through a magnifying lens to carve a bust on a small sliver of ivory no larger than a pin. Borglum was not unkind in his evaluation of his colleague’s microscopic testament. Still, he confessed that men were excited by bigness and not littleness, and so he confronted a mountain.
For the last 14 years of his life, Borglum dangled spider-and-fly fashion to make the stones speak, and thus to illustrate that mountains speak better than molehills. They speak louder and make statements as bold as they are great. Best of all, they vindicate what Jesus said in Mark 11:23: that whosoever says to a mountain, be moved into the sea, it shall be done. It is nice in a world of molehill movers to see once in a while someone who does confront a mountain.
Ayn Rand once defined art as man defining himself. It is a good definition. Matters to which we commit our lives also become our definition. Many Christian lecturers in our day work on reasons not to dance, drink, or listen to rock music.
But men who carve mountains are better regarded in time than those who do little works even though they are works of excellence. There are many things that may be the works of God, but God may well consider as universal priorities huge tasks whose attainments put our lives to the test, and in years to come we vindicate ourselves, knowing we gave our time to those things that God considered great.
The key to greatness before God is not being remembered by history as one who moved a mountain. But it is important to dream as great a dream as possible. It is to our discredit that we only ask God for something to accomplish in his name. Perhaps it would be better to ask him for the greatest possible achievement we are able to bear in his name. Remember the wisdom of Jessie Rittenhouse:
I bargained with Life for a penny,
And Life would pay no more, …
I worked for a menial’s hire,
Only to learn, dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of Life,
Life would have paid.
Our openness to the whole counsel of God is even halted by our small vision and our feelings that we are not capable of acting in some greater way in his service. Like Moses, we are so content with shepherding that we quail before the greater channels of ministry.
We preach long and loud that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Phil 4:13), and then really only do what we can comfortably attend to in life without divine participation.
Author Calvin Miller is pastor of the Westside Baptist Church in Omaha, Nebraska.
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