By Nathan Middleton
ONCE UPON A TIME, THERE WAS A large and beautiful mountain. It was the envy of all the other mountains. Everyone who saw it was enamored by it’s strength and majesty. There have been many mountains through the ages, some even larger than this one, but somehow, this mountain stood out among them all. In fact, mountain dwellers everywhere streamed to it to live while still others sought to copy its forms and structure and apply it to their mountain homeland. It was truly magnificent.
But there was one special and often overlooked characteristic of this mountain that made it unique. For rooted throughout the entire mountain landscape was a forest. But not just any forest. For this was an oak forest with deep roots and huge trunks; they were strong, resilient and tall – giving all who lived on the mountain protection and a deep abiding sense of security.
But then one day, one of the mountain dwellers said to one another, “You know, it sure would be nice if some of these trees were out of the way. For I love to frolic and play on the mountain and I’m sick and tired of the confining limitations these trees impose.” Well soon, many more mountain dwellers began to agree. And they found themselves discussing all the many things they could not or felt should not do because of the forboding presence of the forest. And the more they talked about it, the more angry they became and soon began to despise the centuries old forest.
And so they began to consider ways to begin to remove the oak from the mountain. And they began to implement their their ideas with little or no success at first. Patches of trees were removed here and there, but as a whole the forest was still strong and vibrant. But soon, the disgruntled mountain dwellers became quite adept at tree removal and the planting of a new species of trees that were smaller and more flexible – what became known as the “tolerant” species – to allow for the fun and frolic that became their just cause. And they gave convincing proofs to many other mountain dwellers to join in the advancement of their cause, creating strong alliances and coalitions, forming protests and even organizing lawsuits and boycotts against the mountain dwellers who sought to protect the forest any way.
And before too long, for the first time in mountain history, the strong protective oak foliage no longer dominated the landscape. In fact, many of the mountain dwellers scorned those who dared even consider the great mountain by what they now considered its archaic name – Oak’s Mountain. Little thought was given to the consequences of this massive movement. “After all, our cause is just,” said the mountain dwellers.
That is until one day. For a common rainstorm came, as they do to all mountains and just as it had come to the former great oak forest countless times before. But this time a strange thing happened. Violent landslide erosions were being triggered by the storm. This had never occurred before even when the scattered patches of oaks were removed. Unfortunately, the “tolerant” species of tree roots lacked the strength and depth that the oaks possessed and therefore could not stop the erosion. And the mountain dwellers were “stumped” for the answer as to how to stop it.
Interestingly, the mountain dwellers had so convinced themselves of the justice of their cause to remove the forest that they could not accept the true reason for the massive, consistent and gradual erosion. And so, not understanding the “root” cause, they just got used to the erosion. And then ultimately, one day, quite unnoticeably, the great, strong, majestic, enviable mountain had so eroded to become just like all the other mountains – groping for aid, strength and security it once gave to others.
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:23).