Skiing in Colorado always provides some pretty amazing views. The top of the mountain is the best, of course, and I often want to just stand there a while to enjoy the scenery and to rest. But the point of skiing is going down the mountain.
I’ve been hiking in Colorado too, and making my way to 11,000 feet took tremendous effort (getting to the top for skiing is easy) but was well worth the effort. For both skiing and hiking, though, getting to the bottom took effort.
Whether skiing or hiking, I simply could not stay on the mountaintop forever. Even though I kind of wanted to, and even though the view was amazing and I felt at complete peace, staying there indefinitely just didn’t make sense. The mountaintop is meant as a goal, not a dwelling place.
In Luke 9:28-36, we see that Peter wanted to capture his mountaintop experience and dwell there for a while too.
“…Jesus… took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters — one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ (He did not know what he was saying.)
Peter got caught up in the mountaintop experience just like I have on more than one occasion. He likely felt the peace of the moment and didn’t want to give that up for lesser views.
When we have mountaintop experiences in life, we want to stay and enjoy the view for a while. We do this because…
- We feel God’s total control of every aspect of life.
- We feel certain about the reality of the supernatural.
- We know the memories of the mountaintop tend to fade once we leave.
So we want to stay, and sometimes we do stay. We want constant reminders of who God is and the constant feeling of the peace He provides.
Unfortunately, we sometimes stay much longer than we should, and we end up missing God’s intentions when we dwell there too long. After all, the effort of life — of becoming holy and perfected — happens on the up and down and, of course, in the valley.
“… [with joy] let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardships (distress, pressure, trouble) produces patient endurance; and endurance, proven character (spiritual maturity); and proven character, hope and confident assurance [of eternal salvation]. Such hope [in God’s promises] never disappoints us, because God’s love has been abundantly poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5, AMP)
Leaving the Mountaintop
The mountaintop serves as a goal. It drives us forward. But once we reach it and experience the peace it brings, we must at some point return to the mission field. That’s why Jesus and his disciples had to leave. Jesus’ mission — His death and resurrection — could not take place if he stayed on the mountaintop. It was still before him. Likewise, the disciples mission, which Jesus gave them (and us) later at the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20), was still before them too.
What’s more, reaching a mountaintop does something inside us that can only work itself out in effectiveness as we traverse the side of the mountain and venture into its valley. That’s because mountaintop experiences…
- Are a testimony to God’s work in our lives.
- Continue to revitalize us in the valleys as we practice Active Remembering.
- Point us toward ministry by helping us see God’s vision for what lies ahead.
We simply cannot dwell too long on the mountaintop trying to hold on to that experience if we want its effectiveness to spread to all areas of our lives. We can, however, take the feelings and lessons of the mountaintop experience with us as we journey down allow it to fuel the mission of our lives.
DISCUSSION: When have you dwelt too long on the mountaintop? When have you allowed a mountaintop experience to fuel your life’s mission?