Coming Down from the Mountaintop

January 27, 2010 | 24 comments

It had been a grueling hike for us flatlanders in this thin Colorado air. I wore my Jeremy Camp T-shirt that July day with the words, “I Will Walk by Faith.” Yes, it felt like a walk of faith, with each heavy footfall on that dusty, narrow path.

Then at last, I stood at the mountaintop with hands on my hips. Nearer my God to thee …

At cliff’s edge
I kissed rim of Heaven
with Avia shoes.
I inhaled aroma of God
into aching lungs
into heart that
longs
for Heaven.
Veil tore and
God drew near

caressing even me,
tear-streaked dirty pilgrim in T-shirt and dusty socks.

***

I wanted to stay. I wanted to build an altar where earthen peaks brush up against Heaven. But there was no time.

We hadn’t been on that mountaintop for more than five minutes when Scott saw storm clouds tumbling in from the west.


“Just a few more pictures,” I begged, but he spoke firmly.

“We have got to go. Now.”

I can be such a Simon Peter that way, begging to stay on the mountain.

Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters — one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
— Mark 9:5

The trouble with the mountain is that the only place to go is down.

Simon Peter couldn’t stay on the mountain. And neither could we. That day, we raced down the mountain in a storm, rain plastering T-shirts to our goose-bumped torsos.

But we found light and life in the valley.

***

I’ve so often looked for the experiential God in the high places of my journey. Our mountaintop views quicken our pulse; they inspire us to greater living. I have had epiphanies on the mountaintop, sweet a-ha moments that have altered my thinking and my faith. And I’ve tried to make those moments last, when — like Peter — I suggest that we stay just a bit longer.

But we weren’t made for the mountains. Fruit grows in the valleys.

Jesus beckons: “Take up your cross and follow me.”

We follow him down the mountain — sometimes even through storms — and we find our call in the valleys. For there’s work to be done here alongside other dusty pilgrims walking by faith in the valley.

And this Jesus?
This mountaintop Jesus,
who was transfigured in a high place,
and who was crucified in one, too?

He does not abandon us here in the valley.
We are not alone.


PHOTO: Cross carved into a tree,
spotted on our way down the mountain,
on our way into the valley.
(We follow him, too, up that steep incline to Calvary.)

***

“We have all experienced times of exaltation on the mountain,
when we have seen things from God’s perspective
and have wanted to stay there.
But God will never allow us to stay there.
The true test of our spiritual life is in exhibiting
the power to descend from the mountain.”
— Oswald Chambers

holy experience

Each Wednesday, I join Ann Voskamp as we explore spiritual practices that draw us closer to His heart. At this week’s “Walk With Him Wednesday,” Ann asks the question: “How have you recently experienced God in your life?”

by | January 27, 2010 | 24 comments

24 Comments

  1. Lyla Lindquist

    You know, sometimes I think a little bit of Jesus wanted to stay on that mountain as well. Right after that amazing experience up top, they met up with the rest of the disciples who were failing miserably in their confrontation with a demon (and, I think, fanning the doubt of the Mark 9 dad).

    He came down, did a Messianic eye-roll and said "O unbelieving generation . . . How long shall I put up with you?"

    (Though, I also like to think the dad's conflicted exclamation — you know what is — made Him glad He came back down.)

    Reply
  2. elizabeth

    Thank you once again for a most beautiful, heart warming, thought provoking post.

    Reply
  3. jasonS

    Great post- I love your reminder that "fruit grows in the valleys." We always need to remember that.

    Reply
  4. Cherie Hill

    I just really loved this post…I LOVE the mountains.
    God bless!
    Cherie

    Reply
  5. Deidra

    That story in the Bible about Peter on the mountain – wanting to pitch tents and spend the night – always makes me smile. And then the words of Jesus, reminding us all that the work gets done in the grit of the valley. It is all so true…

    Reply
  6. Darlene

    How have I recently experienced God in my life?

    How?
    * following His leading, even in the face of the unknown
    * stepping out in His faith to share my post-abortion story and healing
    * hearing from others also seeking His forgiveness and love
    * hearing from another who found it today!

    So, how? He has been in my face and in my heart and on my mind! God has knocked my socks off with His mercy and love.

    How have I recently experienced God in my life?
    With a wild, crazy love–that is how!

    Blessings.

    Reply
  7. HisFireFly

    Amen!

    "But we weren't made for the mountains. Fruit grows in the valleys."

    On the mountain we see the glow, but it's in the valley that we grow!

    Well said.

    Reply
  8. Laura

    These photos are gorgeous, Jennifer.

    Those rapid descents from the mountaintop are the most difficult for me. I like to ease my way down. Ponder it mid-way. Stop just before the bottom and gaze back up.

    But I love how you say, the bottom is the fertile land. Yes, so true. I'm still getting this. In fact, I have to learn this time and time again, it seems.

    Thanks for taking me with you on your walk with Him today.

    Reply
  9. Jennifer

    Beautiful post Jennifer and stunning photos! I love how you put it, "Our mountaintop views inspire us to greater living".

    Reply
  10. Catherine

    Fruit grows in the valleys.

    Beautiful post. Thank you 🙂 .

    Reply
  11. Jules

    Very beautifully written.

    Reply
  12. Lisa notes...

    Your thoughts are beautiful and make me think differently about my time here in the valley…

    (I’m going to a Jeremy Camp concert in two weeks. Can’t wait.)

    Reply
  13. alicia

    Beautiful post. One of my favorite quotes from the book "The Noticer" was '… we all like the view from the mountiantops, but its in the valleys that we grow'

    Go and grow, in the valley!

    Reply
  14. Jennifer

    I cling to the mountaintops because even though "going down" is supposed to be easier than going up, it never is. Beautiful.

    Reply
  15. Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife

    It's true. We weren't meant to stay on the mountian. It's in the valley where the rubber meets the road. It's in the valley that we put to practice what we have learned on that mountian.

    I used to want to keep my mountian top experiences. They are good to remember. They are special just because of the fact that they don't happen all the time.

    Life is in the valley. Life is where we learn, fall down and make mistakes.

    God dusts us off and sets us back on our feet again. Praise His Holy name!

    Reply
  16. Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought

    How cool that you wore that T-shirt?! Gorgeous picture of the clouds. I also thought while reading this that you had to be in the moment and alert to see that cross carved into the tree on the way down…that's the way with hearing how He wants us to bear fruit too.

    ~ Wendy

    Reply
  17. S. Etole

    it's never easy to walk through the storms …

    Reply
  18. travelmom

    Oh yes – there's something about the mountain. How I loved reading, "Fruit grows in the valleys."

    The sweetest fruit grows under just the right amount of stress to the plant. Not enough to kill it, but enough for it to focus its energy to the places where it will produce the most value.

    Lovely post Jennifer.

    Blessings,
    Lori

    Reply
  19. Cherie

    You speak truth dear sister!

    Reply
  20. Beth.. One Blessed Nana

    I felt like I was right there with you Jennifer on the mountain!

    Love your perspective and your writing.

    Always blesses me when I stop in here.

    Love to you,
    Beth

    Reply
  21. Rockin' Robin

    Just beautiful… thank God.

    Reply
  22. Joyeful

    The mountaintop is so breathtaking! So much is revealed to us there. It's hard not to linger, but as you say, there is work to be done in the valley.

    Such a tremendous post! It speaks to this mountain climber that God is teaching to be a farmer.

    Reply
  23. Kelly Langner Sauer

    He spent so much time in the valley Himself when He was here. It has come to mean so much more to me when I find His presence here in the low places, where I need it. Somehow, that seems even bigger to me than meeting Him on the mountaintop anymore…

    Also – you should check out this post by Amy Sorrells – I think you'd appreciate her description of "Qavah."

    Reply

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