Have you ever had a “mountaintop experience”? Perhaps it was a fabulous vacation, or an encouraging spiritual retreat, or a moment of great personal joy and success.
Recently, I had my own mountaintop after attending the She Speaks conference in North Carolina. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but I can confidently say the experience far exceeded any expectations I may have had.
The days were full of excellent teaching, soul-filling worship, and the most incredible Christian fellowship I’ve ever experienced. God did some amazing, healing things in my heart and gave me hope and a vision for what to do next, from a writing perspective.
It truly felt like a slice of Heaven … and then …
Monday morning came.
It always does, doesn’t it?
The dishes still pile up, the laundry still multiplies at a rate that defies all scientific principles, and—to my great dismay—in my absence, my children did not magically learn how to get along without fighting, whining, or crying. I was really hoping for that one!
It’s hard, isn’t it? This juxtaposition of mountain and valley. At times, it can feel almost cruel, to taste and see the mountain when we know our address leads us straight back to the valley.
My mind takes me to Luke 9:28-36, where we read about the Transfiguration. Jesus took three disciples (Peter, James, and John) and went up on the mountain to pray, where He was then glorified and acknowledged by God as His Chosen Son.
While there, Moses and Elijah joined Jesus in what was a beautiful image of His fulfillment of all the law (represented by Moses) and all the prophets (represented by Elijah). It was a truly glorious moment.
So glorious, in fact, it was enough to rouse Peter, James, and John from their heavy sleep—and upon seeing the awe-inspiring scene unfolding right in front of his eyes, Peter remarked:
“’Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah’—not knowing what he said.” (Luke 9:33 ESV).
Don’t you just love Peter’s enthusiasm? He may not have known what he was saying—but he sure knew what he was seeing. The dazzling glory of God on that mountaintop created in Peter a deep desire to call it a day and stay right where they were.
And while we may chuckle at Peter’s passionate display, I find my heart echoing his cry after spending a few days on the mountaintop … it is good to be here. All is clear. All is peace. And I long to be done with the darkness of the valley.
Oswald Chambers captures this tension beautifully:
“When you are on the mountaintop, it’s easy to say, ‘Oh yes, I believe God can do it,’ but you have to come down from the mountain to the demon-possessed valley and face the realities that scoff at your Mount-of-Transfiguration belief.”
The demon-possessed valley. It certainly feels that way, doesn’t it? After the mountaintop comes the reality of life, jobs, parenting, relational conflicts, illness, and any number of other trials.
We face the task of taking what we learned on the mountain and applying it to the fog-laden valley. It’s all too easy to forget the lessons learned, but I believe it’s possible for us to come down from that mountain and thrive right here in the middle of our valley realities.
Here are three practical things we can remember when we’re coming down from the mountaintop. May these encourage and strengthen you in your valley days:
Remember Where You Are Headed
There’s a reason the mountaintop experiences are so powerful and soul-filling—they reflect the reality of where we are headed!
Our hearts were created in the perfection of Eden (Genesis 1:27), and they are headed for an eternity in the perfection of God’s new Eden (Revelation 21). But for now, we are living a life “between two gardens,” as Lysa TerKeurst so beautifully puts it.
When the beauty of the mountain is fading in the midst of your return to everyday life, remember that there will come a day when you’ll never have to make that long, dreadful hike back into the valley.
Your valley days are numbered! Let this truth infuse you with strength to live each one of those valley days in the power and strength of the Holy Spirit.
Remember the Work Jesus is Doing
Peter said it was “good” for them to be on the mountaintop—and while that may have been true in the moment, it was not good for them to stay on the mountain.
Jesus still had work to do—important, divine, soul-saving work. And so did Peter. And so do you.
Our God’s heart is that all people would come to know and love Him. As His children, it’s our job to share the good news of the gospel while we are here on earth and fulfill the plans God has for us.
We can thrive in the valley by remembering and valuing God’s ultimate good and His mission for us in the here and now—that we would go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20).
Remember the Gift of Perspective
One of the best things about being on the mountain is the ability to see above all the sticky, prickly weeds that trip us up and wear us down. If you’re like me, the small things of the daily grind tend to consume my mind all too often.
That unkind e-mail. That difficult conversation. Even that super long Starbucks line can throw me off when I don’t have my priorities straight.
On the mountain heights, we’re finally able to see above the mess and senseless stress of the valley and grab ahold of what really matters in this life—knowing God and fulfilling His will on this earth.
Instead of mourning the loss of the mountaintop, let it be for you a treasured experience that keeps your perspective in check. When your heart begins to waiver again at the small things, recall the glorious reality of what you saw on the mountain.
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God is about bigger, greater things—and He’s calling us into that! May we walk into the valley with confidence, knowing we do not walk alone as we carry out His work on this earth.