“On the mountains, torrents flow right along, cutting their own courses. But on the plains canals have to be dug painfully by men so that the water might flow. So among those who live on the heights with God, the Holy Spirit makes its way through of its own accord, whereas those who devote little time to prayer and communion with God have to organize painfully.” – Sadhu Sundar Singh
Among other things, this quote is a powerful reminder that the Christian faith is the result of God loving the world, the whole world, and not only the select few who live in the West. Singh was raised as a Sikh but attended a school run by Christian missionaries. He was forced to read the NT daily, but rejected its teaching as false. He did, however, become a Christian at age 14 around the turn of the 20th century following the death of his mother.
In his grief and anger, Singh burned a Bible, and then on the verge of suicide, cried out to God asking Him to reveal Himself if He was real. As the story goes, a light entered his room and Singh heard a voice, “How long will you deny Me,” the voice said. “I died for you.” Then Singh claims he saw two hands that were pierced, which then disappeared. That was his Damascus Road experience (Acts 9:1-6). Singh devoted the rest of his life to proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. He spent his adult life as an itinerant evangelist to India, Tibet and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).
I come across many quotable sayings in my reading, but Singh’s mountain metaphor is striking to me. I can easily picture the flowing water finding its way down the crevasses, patiently working around rocky obstacles or pushing them aside, and slowly building volume until the stream pours down the mountain face like a waterfall.
Throughout the Bible there are mountain references. Among the most prominent are Sinai, the Mount of Olives, and Zion. Each is noted for its unique relationship to the people of GOD. Sinai is where the Law was given, the foundation of a morality that was supposed to bring light into a dark world. It is also the mountain in whose shadow GOD’s chosen people, thinking they needed sight more than faith, openly rebelled against GOD’s exclusive claim on them by creating and worshipping an idol. Finally, this is the mountain at which Israel placed the onus on Moses to commune with GOD on their behalf, so fearful were they at stirring up His anger. And so the water (Holy Spirit) was poured down on Moses, but I’m not so sure about the rest of them.
The Mount of Olives is the location of the garden of Gethsemane where Jesus spent the night in prayer facing His greatest trial. It was here that the angels came and ministered to Him as He prayed in mental agony (water of the Spirit being poured out on Him). Despite His invitation to several of disciples to pray along with Him, they failed under the weight of the temptation to sleep. The disciples, His called ones, missed sharing in the outpouring that He received, and much of their collective response later revealed their spiritual shortcomings during and immediately after the arrest of Jesus, an after-effect of spiritual sloth.
Lastly, there is Mt. Zion, the location of Jerusalem, the site of the old city of David, the center of the Judeo-Christian world where Abraham is believed to have paid a tithe to Melchizedek the priest, the site of the first and second Temple, a subject in the Psalms of Ascent to which pilgrims sang as they marched toward worship at the annual feasts, and the place of Calvary (means Skull because the hill resembles one) where Jesus was crucified. The last event gave us free access to GOD. The Temple curtain tore at the death of Jesus; eliminating our need for the intercession of a human priest. We have free access to GOD, limited only by our desire and willingness to commune with Him. Jesus is the offer of “living water” (John 7:38).
Mr. Singh seems to be challenging us not to allow fear of GOD (like the ancient Israelites), nor spiritual sloth (like the sleeping disciples) to keep us from enjoying the privileges we have in Christ. Similarly, we cannot become so enamored with where we are, like the many overly proud Jerusalemites, that we forget whose we are.
Instead, we can daily be like those marching to Zion in great anticipation of feasting on GOD. GOD will surely welcome us if we climb to the top of the mountain. He will pour Himself over us and into us as a fountain of water that lives.
Come go with me.
© Byron L. Hannon, 2019. All rights reserved to text content.