The other day, I intercepted a rumor. It was an average rumor, not much larger or smaller than any other morsel of news. I could do one of two things with it. I could forget it, letting it die on the vine; or I could take and add to it, embellish it, magnify it and pass it on to someone who feeds on rumors. That’s called making mountains out of molehills. It’s an old art—take something small and blow it out of proportion. But there’s the other side of the coin—take something big and make something small out of it. Underestimate the value of something. For example, the prodigal son took something important—his heritage—and undervalued it. He trivialized one of the best things in his life, before he realized his blunder.
Something similar happened to Esau and Jacob in the Old Testament. Esau came home one day, tired and hungry. Seeing his brother Jacob cooking a very aromatic and temping dish, he said, “Hey brother, how about a sample?” Now, Jacob wasn’t born yesterday, and he said, “I’ll give it all to you for your birthright.” Food was the most important thing to Esau for the moment (sometimes our appetites get us into trouble). So, Esau agreed with the offer and handed it over. He gave away his inheritance. He traded something big for something little. This is not a rare thing at all. From the infinite goodness of God, we are blessed. We are given much. We can make it a mess or a masterpiece. We can make molehills out of mountains by not seeing or using these daily blessings.
I had a young friend a few years ago who graduated from medical school with honors. Following in the footsteps of his doctor father, he was ready to set up his own practice. The week he graduated, he was celebrating the occasion with friends and he drank one “toast” after another. When it was time to go home, he wobbled and stumbled in front of a car and was killed instantly. He missed a brilliant career and a good life because of a few rounds of alcohol. Molehills out of mountains, for sure.
I always enjoy going to Colorado. The last time I was there, I rented a car and took a ride in the mountains. Seeing the colors and the snow and the beauty of God’s handiwork, I started singing, “O beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain. America, America, God shed His grace on thee.” We have a tremendous birthright all over this land of ours. This is why it’s sad to see it abused and polluted and covered with so much concrete. Ecology and theology should go hand in hand. We are stewards of God’s Creation.
I heard a poem that says it better than I could:
“Up the lazy river, where the garbage flows
Anytime you’re near, you better hold your nose,
And if you take a chance and water ski,
You wind up in the trash, among the old debris.”
I must say, however, that I believe our country is getting better about raising awareness of the need to preserve our natural beauty. The way we treat this good earth reflects our relationship with its Creator. There are three levels of relating to God. The first level is the “Santa Claus” mindset. Give me what I want. Answer my prayer or I will not believe. I know a man who lost his faith in God because God didn’t answer the prayer that he prayed.
The second level is the “good feeling” level. We can knock ourselves out serving on committees and doing everything we can for the church, mainly because it makes us feel good.
The third level is an “unconditional love” relationship. We serve God, give and work for a better world, because we love God. We are thankful, and out of our gratitude, we do what we can without any recognition or praise from our peers. The early pilgrims served God with thanksgiving, despite their hardships and suffering. So, in observance of this Thanksgiving, I close with this prayer:
Dear Lord, forgive us for taking our mountains and making molehills out of them. Help us to take care of this birthright we’ve inherited. Thank you for the ability to hear the birds sing and to use our vocal chords to communicate with other human beings. Thank you for the strength to walk to the breakfast table this morning on two good legs and to read the paper with two good eyes. Lord, there are times when we feel lonely, afraid and uptight. There’s so much to be afraid of these days. In the place of fear, may we raise the banner of faith, and do the best we can to alleviate the problems we face. We thank you that freedom still rings in this country, and we can still worship and cast ballots and constructively criticize our government without being struck down. We know that life is not a bed of roses, but it’s not all thorns, either. Thank you for the teachings in the Judeo-Christian faith. Help us to be honest, truthful and decent human beings, respecting human life wherever it is. Helps us to be able to say each day, “Thank God from whom all blessings flow.” Amen.