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