Mountaintops and Valleys

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This is the view from our house. Pretty amazing, isn’t it? That’s Pikes Peak on the right, at 14,110 feet elevation. We live in Colorado, a state famous for its Fourteeners (peaks surpassing 14,000 feet).

Conquering such a mountain is exhilarating. All the effort you expended in the ascent is a small price to pay for being on top. The view is incredible. From such lofty heights, you gain a sense of perspective on the minutiae of daily life. Your senses are full—the wind blowing your hair and drying the perspiration from your skin, the eerie quiet, perhaps dispelled by the piping call of a marmot, the smell of rocks and dust. Unfiltered sunlight glares in your eyes. You gasp for breath in the thin air.

For that moment, nothing else matters. Then you notice the slow accumulation of thunderheads in the sky above, and realize that you can’t stay on the mountain top. It’s time to begin your descent. Picking your way down the rocky trail, you head back to the distractions and responsibilities of daily life in the valleys below.

Mountaintop experiences create lasting memories. Noah landed his ark on a mountaintop. Moses received the Ten Commandments there. It’s on the mountaintop that Peter and John saw Jesus transformed in His glory. Lives are changed on the heights.

When one has a mountaintop experience, the desire is to always remain in that place. Everything is so clear, our dedication is so fresh, and heaven is close enough to touch. We try to hold on as long as possible, but eventually we find ourselves deflated, exhausted, sliding back down to the humdrum monotony that comprises most of our days. The sense of loss is palatable.

At first our valley existence doesn’t compare with our time on the mountain. We’ve moved from sunshine to shadows. What was obvious above the clouds is now obscured by haze. Which direction should we go? What do we do next? God seems further away—or is it us that has moved?

Then, as time goes by, we begin to appreciate that we were actually made for the lowlands. While mountains are made of rocks, valleys hold fertile soil. Mountaintops are blustery, exposed places while valleys shelter us from the worst storms of life. Trees that bear fruit, seeds that produce a hundred-fold harvest, and streams of living water are all found at lower elevations.

We can swear our allegiance to God on the altar of the heights, but we live out our faith in the fruitfulness of the plains.

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