This is an old "post" that I wrote during my first year in Peru. I'm publishing it today because we have been experiencing the very same dreary weather that darkened my days 23 years ago. But I'm thankful to say that the truth behind the clouds is not only as real today as it was to "young Rachel," my faith in that truth has become much deeper over the 2 decades since then. In fact, I could add several more pages to this post, but for the sake of time, I'll leave you with my original letter, written on written 3-10-99.
Rainy season in the Andes is not the most beautiful time for sightseeing.
Our most awe-inspiring vista, the snow-capped brilliance of the Cordillera Blanca running down the western edge of the country like the backbone holding everything together, was covered by gray rain clouds for a solid month. As the gloomy weather pressed in like a heavy weight, it was easy to begin feeling trapped in the valley. The lower mountain range to our west and the foothills of the tall nevados to the east seemed to make a forbidding wall around the valley, topped by the thick, dark clouds above, which faithfully disgorged their daily allotment of rain on the farms and the city below.
Without knowing that the beautiful, rugged white mountains were there, without having seen them for myself, it would be quite easy to believe that they were just another pretty story or legend, told by the campesinos in order to make their hard life seem a bit more bearable. In fact, on some of the continually dark, dreary days, I found myself wondering if there really were tall mountain peaks behind the clouds.
As I caught myself questioning the reality of the rugged Andes Mountains that I couldn’t see behind the clouds, I thought about how I often question God’s existence too.
So many times I can’t see him at work in my life, and I begin to wonder if he is really still there. I think of my prayers that the people I love most will find the same peace in Christ that I enjoy. Twenty four years and counting, and I wonder if God even hears. I think of the days when I feel lonely, and ask God why he sent me a continent away from all that I know and love, but I don’t hear his audible voice, and my sisters, my lifelong best friends, don’t miraculously appear at my doorstep for one of our all-night chats.
I think of decisions, and trials, and the everyday cares of life that can so easily turn my mind from the Son, and cause me to focus on the clouds.
But I have seen the mountains, have taken pictures of their snow-white brilliance, have climbed their rugged slopes.
I have watched the setting sun paint their surface in colors more brilliant than a human artist could imagine. I have seen the moon rise like a glowing pearl between the jagged peaks. I know the mountains are there, behind the clouds. I have experienced them.
And I have experienced God. I have watched him take a timid teenager and give her the ability to teach. I have cried as he took a stubborn will and shaped it into a vessel that is bold and strong in sharing his message. I have felt him take my fears and replace them with perfect peace. I have rejoiced that he has written my name in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
I have experienced God.
And as I look at the trials that seem like dark, threatening thunderheads in life, I remind myself of what I know, of what I have experienced.
I know that God is there, behind the clouds.