In the midst of the California desert is Salvation Mountain. It is a mountain made of straw, adobe, and lots of lead free paint. Its Oz-like colors and yellow brick road proclaim God’s love, John 3:16, The Lord’s Prayer, fruits of the spirit, and forgiveness.
I arrived at Salvation City on a solo photography junket there while in Palm Desert, CA. I am humbled/embarrassed to say that I went expecting a good photo op of a tacky place with questionable theology. What I found was cool water in the desert.
I had been driving in the desert for a couple of hours when I got there. Around 60 people of all ages and backgrounds were milling around, exclaiming over it in a variety of languages. Instead of finding someone shoving their theology on me, or trying to sell me something, or ask for donations, I found a welcoming place. A holy place. It wasn’t my normal, but it was a demonstration of what one person can do for the glory of God with vision, perseverance, and hard work. I had many take-a- ways; here are my current top three.
It may not be safe.
There was a group of people discussing Leonard’s vision and hard work, specifically construction techniques. One of the visitors asked a volunteer if the structure were safe. The volunteer answered, “I can’t promise that.”
How often when we get ready to do what God wants us to do, do we ask God if it is safe? God never promises that his way for us in our lives will be safe. He promises to be with us regardless. Leonard had people doubt and mock his vision, he had an earlier attempt fail.
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (NIV, Matt. 28:20b)
Stick with it.
It took Leonard Knight decades to build this with many people opposing his vision of sharing God’s love. He kind of reminds me of a modern day Noah, just in the desert. Do I know what God wants me to do? Am I willing to do whatever is necessary to fulfill God’s purpose for my life?
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. (NIV, James 1:12)
I also arrived looking for a gas station or convenience store to fill my empty water bottle. I was unable to find a place that looked suitable. However, there were coolers of icy water and sodas that the volunteers were offering to the visitors at no charge. God met my physical need while meeting my spiritual and creative needs.
I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint. (NIV, Jer. 31:25)
I am very thankful for this unexpected blessing from God. I do wonder how many blessings I miss or take for granted because I am not looking for them. Thankfully the size and vibrancy of this one ensured that I couldn’t miss it!
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