DOWN FROM THE MOUNTAIN
Mountaintop experiences, we all have them, we all experience them, and usually we all enjoy them. However, we don’t LIVE on the mountain, and sooner or later we have to come back down to the valley.
Last week I had a true “mountaintop experience” in Israel, with some fine people. I would have never thought I’d come back saying that it was “difficult”, but it was. “Difficult” doesn’t always mean “bad”, however. It was also profound, thrilling, overpowering, spiritually-invigorating, and relaxing, all at once.
The term “mountaintop experience” comes from the scripture. It is on the mountain that God met with Moses & Elijah. It was on the “mountain” that Jesus was transfigured and where the Disciples were “clued in” to who their Rabbi really was. The Law and Grace both came “from the mountain”. And those who were “on the mountain” were also asked to go, to leave, to return to the valley.
We spend much of our lives, as followers of Christ, searching for a “mountaintop experience” that will last. I know many followers who seek God through emotion. They “feel” an experience and believe it to be real, and it may be, but when they don’t “feel” it, then they don’t believe they “have” it. “It” being a closeness to God. This is somewhat contrary to what Jesus taught us about Him and His Father. He said that where “two or three are gathered in His name, He is there.”…period (whether you “feel” it or not). He said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (whether you “feel” it or not).
How many beautiful, good and true worship has been derided by those of another worship-style persuasion because it either had too much or too little emotional passion…and the accusers didn’t “feel” God there (despite His promise)? How many good people with hearts that would love God “feel” that they have no connection to God because everyone else seems to “feel” Him so close and they “feel” nothing? (despite His promise)? How many poor decisions are made in God’s name because the decider “felt” God sealing their purpose…even though the scripture, the Spirit and good old God-Given-Common-Sense would dictate otherwise?
A “mountaintop experience” is a wonderful, emotionally-charged banquet of delight, and if it is a God-hosted event, not one to be taken lightly. But each “mountaintop experience” has a purpose: it is to bulk us up for descending to the valley where the work is to be done and where we may not “feel” the presence of God as much as we did on the mountain. So we must trust His words and remember what it felt like on the mountain. He is no less “present” in the valley…but there are so many more distractions for us, and so many more things that seem less like God.
What I experienced in Israel was truly, and sometimes literally, a “mountaintop experience”. Now, inevitably, I am back “down to earth” and swamped with work. That is how it should be. The memory of what took place should be enough to carry in my heart and cherish. Then I can open my eyes to the beauty of being home among those I love and care for. I can relish the fact that life is full of many, many types of experiences. Through it all there is one constant: I am a child of the Living God, I am light and eternal. No matter what happens in THIS age and time, I will live forever in the age to come, with the One who knows me best and loves me most. No mountain or valley can take that away.