It’s a way of “flattening” mountains and turning them into plains. What is it? Terrace farming.
The Wari and Inca people of Peru invented terrace farming more than a thousand years ago. Today, terrace farming lines the hills extensively in Asia and in countries around the Mediterranean.
Terrace farming is the means by which the slopes of hills and mountains can be converted into a series of flat surfaces or platforms for growing crops requiring irrigation, such as rice. Farmers also use terracing to grow wheat and barley, as well as to grow vineyards. Terrace farming is, quite literally, a way of turning mountains into plains.
This agricultural procedure is the only way available for mountain-dwelling people to grow staple crops. It also has the benefits of preventing the depletion of the soil’s nutrients due to run off and erosion. Terracing, however, is a labor-intensive process, since it requires the construction and maintenance of rock walls to support each terrace. Yet it is essential to the survival of millions of people.
The construction of terraces on mountain slopes to convert them into plains reminded me of a scripture from the prophet Isaiah. “Let every valley be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low;
and let the rough ground become a plain, and the rugged terrain a broad valley” (Isa. 40:4). This passage speaks of John the Baptist’s ministry of preparing the way for the coming Messiah (Luke 3:3–6).
In retrospect, we know that the actual appearance of the Lord’s forerunner and the actual coming of the Lord Himself did not match what people expected. Nor were the mountains and rough places flattened in the manner which Israel anticipated. Jesus’ first coming seemed extraordinarily modest. Yet it accomplished the greatest miracles in all time and eternity. The lowly Lord Jesus put away sin once for all, satisfied God’s justice, and provided for humanity’s eternal redemption.
It makes me wonder. How many visions, dreams, and aspirations do we have which God will fulfill in ways we didn’t anticipate? An evangelist may dream of winning hordes of people for Jesus Christ. Yet, he never anticipated that he would win them one at a time. A young woman may dream of leading a church. However, God may assign to her a congregation made exclusively of her own children. I may pray that God would use me to influence thousands through my efforts. Instead, I may invest a thousand days into the life of just one person—and that one person will influence the thousands. Maybe God won’t turn the mountain into one long and broad plain. Maybe He’ll convert it into a series of small plains which grow just as many crops—or more—as the long, broad plain we envisioned.
How many visions, dreams, and aspirations do we have which God will fulfill in ways we didn’t anticipate?
The outcome, however, will be the same—or greater. It may not seem so at first. Yet, in all the examples mentioned above those visions and dreams will have been fulfilled. God will have accomplished all that He said He would do. He may not accomplish it with all the grandeur and glory we hoped for. But this world is not the place for glory. Heaven is the place where God will reveal the full grandeur and glory of our humble labors down here.
So do not become discouraged or regretful over the way things unfold in your life. Be faithful to the work He called you to do.
Dear Father in heaven, into Your loving and capable hands, I commit myself, my work, and all my plans. May Your will be done in my life. Amen.