Message on the Mountain
by Ashlyn McKayla Ohm
Too trite, too terse, too stale, too small—ideas dangled in the air, yet I could hold none in my hands. I needed something to write, some prose to pin to paper. But again and again, my frantic fumblings ended with empty hands.
As always happens, doubt stalked on the heels of defeat. What if all my ideas had vanished? What if I had nothing left to say?
As any writer knows, this is the hiss from the empty hallways of the mind, the shadow specter that haunts—this notion that creativity, after all, might be a finite resource, that no matter how deep the well might seem to drop, one day I’ll dip my pen in ink and it will come up dry. Was today the day?
I’d felt it before, the kinetic spark to unwind my words, so I laced up my shoes and went for a run. The temperatures were unseasonably cool for spring in Arkansas, but the humidity was heavy, silver mist hovering over the newly green fields. Up the mountain I ran, under the canopy of fresh-sprouting leaves—still fumbling, still flailing, still fearing. Over my head, the ideas floated just out of reach, like the steely clouds in the sky. But not a drop of rain fell.
I reached the top of the mountain—a wild and wooded place, where time and space intersect in odd coordinates. And panting there, under the pine trees, I was captured by the thought of another mountain. The story flashed before my eyes—Jesus wrapped in light, Transfiguration tremendous and terrifying, while the voice of God shook the hills. Perhaps a weak parallel, but after all, wasn’t that what I’d done—come up this mountain to hear from God?
So what did I hear?
An echo of Scripture, John’s words to the church: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life” (1 John 1:1-2 ESV).
John had bowed on the mountain. He’d seen the Shekinah shatter the everyday like lightning, and He’d glimpsed the Son of God—more profoundly than I could ever hope to this side of Heaven. And what did he find? Not a fresh idea, not a brilliant concept, but the power of a Person—Jesus. And decades later, when he penned this letter near the end of his life, his heart was still overflowing with the Man he fully met on the mountain.
I ran back down the slopes, back toward home. The fog still swirled over the fields, but it was beginning to lift in my spirit.
So here I am, weaving these words while rain soundly soaks the world outside my window. Showers of blessing, perhaps? All I know is I don’t need a new idea; I need a new heart. When all is said and done, my only offering is a simple song—the song of my Savior, the story of His sacrifice. And with my fears and failures, mistakes and mishaps, I will continue telling what I have seen and heard. Not new ideas, not trendy takes—just the old, old story of Love—still the best news I could ever bring.
A passionate follower of Jesus Christ, Ashlyn McKayla Ohm finds her writing calling where her heart for God and her love for His creation intersect. Born and raised in rural Arkansas on the shoulders of the Ouachita Mountains, she’s most at home where the streetlights die and the pavement ends. She is the author of the devotional A Year in the Woods and is forever grateful that God has given her the gift of not only exploring His beautiful world but also using her words to prayerfully draw others to Him. Follow her adventures on her blog, Words from the Wilderness, or on Instagram and Facebook.