The Rough Side of the Mountain

Scripture: (Romans 8: 18) For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
In 1984, a popular gospel song was released entitled, “Rough Side of the Mountain.” This song written by Rev. F.C. Barnes was initially a prayer he had prayed after having car trouble. In an article, posted on ncarts.org, Rev. Barnes said he was driving on a newly constructed part of Highway 74 when his car started acting up. He knew that there were not any gas stations or stores for about 20 miles because the road was new. He didn’t know what to do, so he started praying. He prayed about things being hard for him while he was trying to do God’s work. He talked about how it seemed that others who were trying to do the will of God had it easy, while everything he had his hands on came with challenges. He prayed about having little money and how his car often gave him trouble, but he still hit the road to deliver God’s word at the revival in Tabor City, NC (175 miles from where he lived).  While he admits he got stuck in that prayer, by the time he had come to himself the car was running smoothly. He made it to the revival, but that prayer was stuck in his head. Once back home he made the prayer a song. Rev. Barnes felt that people, regardless of color, could relate to the words in the song. He was correct, that song topped the Billboard gospel chart at #1 for a year and eventually went gold. Rev. F.C. Barnes was 55 when he wrote that song. He became a minister at age 26. He earned a doctoral degree and founded his church at age 30. He was married with six children, one of which preceded him in death. He lived to be 82. I’m sure a dark-skinned man born in the south in 1929 indeed was climbing up the rough side of the mountain.

As you think about his song and what it means, your mind may automatically think about struggles and difficulties. The word “rough” in this song describes such things. However, I’d have you consider the blessing in climbing up the rough side of the mountain. Yes, one can assume that had Rev. Barnes not experienced some adversity he would not have prayed that prayer and thus would not have written that song. A song that probably afforded him some financial gain. But there is another thought to consider: climbing up the “smooth” side of the mountain is impossible. Although, the rough side of the mountain makes one think about struggles, it is that side of the mountain that has ridges onto which you can grab hold. The rough side of the mountain has places for you to put your feet so you can climb and landings where you can rest. The rough side of the mountain is designed to assist you in your journey to the top, whereas the smooth side is designed to keep you at the bottom. So, when you encounter difficult times, rest in the fact that this is the side of the mountain that will best help you reach your goal. And as you climb the rough side of the mountain remember that:
1.         The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed and a stronghold in times of trouble. (Psalm 9:9-10)
2.         The Lord your God will meet all your needs. (Philippians 4:19)
3.         The Lord is your hiding place; He will protect you and give you counsel. (Psalm 32:7-8)
4.         You can cast all your concerns on the Lord because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7
5.         Despite your challenges, God is with you always. (Joshua 1:9)
6.         You can make it simply because you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. (Philippians 4:13)
7.         Every struggle, every difficulty, all suffering, is nothing compared to the glory of God that will eventually be revealed to you (Romans 8:18).

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for Your word that encourages us while we are climbing the rough side of the mountain. Lord, although we would prefer everything to be easy, You have shown how adversity makes us stronger. Lord, thank You for grace and mercy, because many of those rough places are a direct result of sin, but You didn’t allow us to slide to the bottom. Instead (You) gave us a ledge to rest on. Thank you for allowing us a chance to get it together so we could continue to climb. Thank you for Jesus the Christ who took our place on the cross so we can reach the top of the mountain. In the matchless name of Jesus, I pray, Amen.
(by Patricia Towns)

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