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. If we only have the power to go up, something is wrong. It is a wonderful thing to be on the mountain with God, but a person only gets there so that he may later go down and lift up the demon-possessed people in the valley (see Mark 9:14-18). We are not made for the mountains, for sunrises, or for the other beautiful attractions in life— those are simply intended to be moments of inspiration. We are made for the valley and the ordinary things of life, and that is where we have to prove our stamina and strength. Yet our spiritual selfishness always wants repeated moments on the mountain. We feel that we could talk and live like perfect angels, if we could only stay on the mountaintop. Those times of exaltation are exceptional and they have their meaning in our life with God, but we must beware to prevent our spiritual selfishness from wanting to make them the only time.
We are inclined to think that everything that happens is to be turned into useful teaching. In actual fact, it is to be turned into something even better than teaching, namely, character. The mountaintop is not meant to teach us anything, it is meant to make us something. There is a terrible trap in always asking, “What’s the use of this experience?” We can never measure spiritual matters in that way. The moments on the mountaintop are rare moments, and they are meant for something in God’s purpose.
The height of the mountaintop is measured by the dismal drudgery of the valley, but it is in the valley that we have to live for the glory of God. We see His glory on the mountain, but we neverlive for His glory there. It is in the place of humiliation that we find our true worth to God— that is where our faithfulness is revealed. Most of us can do things if we are always at some heroic level of intensity, simply because of the natural selfishness of our own hearts. But God wants us to be at the drab everyday level, where we live in the valley according to our personal relationship with Him.
When you were on the mountaintop you could believe anything, but what about when you were faced with the facts of the valley? You may be able to give a testimony regarding your sanctification, but what about the thing that is a humiliation to you right now? The last time you were on the mountain with God, you saw that all the power in heaven and on earth belonged to Jesus— will you be skeptical now, simply because you are in the valley of humiliation?
I remember the first time I read this a few years back (2005 to be specific). I remember even then settling on how true this has often been of me and my desires. I want to obey God and serve Him and be filled with the joys I know I have experienced before. I can quickly become zealous to recover the feeling and experience I received from God rather than the God who lives in me now and in my future. The past successes and moments of exhilaration can quickly become tiny idols for me. I begin to hold myself up against them and find myself wanting.
I was once more zealous.
I have before lifted my hands in spontaneity of worship I cannot now by rote reproduce.
I have been better than I am now.
There is a real element of becoming dull to our first love about which John writes to the church in
In my worship I seek to be reassured of my own love in being filled to the fullest measures. If you are a Christian and have been one for any amount of time, you have likely had a mountain top experience in which you delighted and drew nearer to God than you ever dreamt possible. It is not wrong to look lovingly with thanksgiving to God for those moments. It is not even wrong to desire more of them inasmuch as it yokes you further and richer to Christ. But do be careful that you do not make those the standard of real spirituality.
Jesus left Heaven to minister on earth. Jesus was only documented as having transfigured on one occasion in 3 years of ministry and 33 years (give or take) of life. He forsook glory for the sake and purposes of God. May we not strive against the ministry of Christ in requesting transfiguration at every corner and revelation at every step.
Desiring to be lifted up is a gift of God. Unwillingness to yourself stoop to the mean duties of daily life is a rebellion against God. Those who stoop will be lifted up and have their desires fulfilled. They demonstrate a true desire to be lifted up by God alone by doing what God has asked in stooping in the interim. If one only desires to be lifted up, one ends in any number of sinful scenarios:
(1) they reject the daily duties assigned them by God
(2) in ravenous desire to be lifted up, they attempt to lift themselves
(3) in bitterness, they reject God for not lifting them up according to their timetable
(4) they assume in despair that God has rejected them because He has left them to stoop for so long.
You must worship God now in what you have before you where you are currently. The moments of refreshing will come. He is faithful and will not allow you go on famished.
He will feed you more and more the more you feed others in order to restore your ability to feed others more and more.
***On a side note: Happy Birthday(s)!! to the 2nd and 3rd most important moms in my world: mine and my wife's.