From Ascent To The Mountaintop, To Descent Into The Valley

    I have just returned from Haiti with a medical outreach team.  It was an amazing experience.  One that all of us will never forget.  We served with the tangible strength of God upon us.  We felt His heart for the people of Haiti, and poured out our lives for Jesus.  Fellowship with one another was heavenly, and we sensed the glory of God in and through each other.  However, we were faced with the fact that we had to return to the “normal” life full of stress, difficult challenges, and for some of us, back to face “darkness.”  It had an eerie similar feel of that high retreat experiences we had as youth, just to see it slip through our hands a few days or weeks later.  

    Oswald Chambers in “The Love of God - The Ministry of the Unnoticed” writes on this privileged ascent to the mountaintop experience, and the quick descent to the valley.  For me, it helped me (more like slapped-me-silly) put into perspective the “why”, and the “what”, I must concentrate on: 

  • We must have the power to ascend (and this is a special time granted to us by God) AND descend.  We were built for the valleys.  Not the mountaintops.  Only spiritual selfishness wants to stay on the mountaintop, and continue to experience the high:

“The test of spiritual life is the power to descend; if we have power to rise only, there is something wrong. We all have had times on the mount when we have seen things from God’s standpoint and we wanted to stay there; but if we are disciples of Jesus Christ, He will never allow us to stay there. Spiritual selfishness makes us want to stay on the mount; we feel so good, as if we could do anything—talk like angels and live like angels, if only we could stay there. But there must be the power to descend; the mountain is not the place for us to live, we were built for the valleys. This is one of the hardest things to learn because spiritual selfish- ness always wants repeated moments on the mount.”

“We must be able to mount up with wings as eagles, but we must know also how to come down. It is the coming down and the living down that is the power of the saint. Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”; watch the things he said he could do, they were all humiliating things. We have the idea that we are meant to work for God along the heroic line; we are meant to do un-heroic work for God in the martyr spirit. The sphere of humiliation is always the place of more satisfaction to Jesus Christ, and it is in our power to refuse to be humili- ated, to say, “No, thank you, I much prefer to be on the mountaintop with God.” Do I believe that God engineers my circumstances, that it is He who brings me each day into contact with the people I meet? Am I faithful enough to Him to know that all I meet with in the ordinary machinery of every day by chance or hap- hazard is absolutely under His dominance and rule?”

  • This mountaintop experience has nothing to do with what we are to do with it, or what it is suppose to teach us.  It hast everything to do with who we will chose to become after this mountaintop experience.  In one word - character:

“When God gives us a time of exaltation it is always exceptional. It has its meaning in our life with God, but we must beware lest spiritual selfishness wants to make it the only time. The sphere of exaltation is not meant to teach us anything. We are apt to think that everything that happens to us is to be turned into useful teaching;  it is to be turned into something better than teaching, viz., into character.  We shall find that the spheres God brings us into are not meant to teach us something but to make us something. There is a great danger in asking, “What is the use of it?” There is no use in it at all. If you want a life of usefulness, don’t be a Christian after Our Lord’s stamp; you will be much more useful if you are not…. The mountaintop experiences are rare moments, but they are meant for something in the purposes of God. It was not until Peter came to write his Epistles that he realised the full purpose of his having been on the Mount of Transfiguration.”

“Do get out of your ears the noisy cries of the Christian world we are in—“Do this and do that.” Never! “Be this and that, then I will do through you,” says Jesus… We slander God by our very eagerness to work for Him without knowing Him.”

  • The mountaintop experience is where we SEE His glory.  The valley is where we LIVE for His glory.  It is in the valley where nothing is pretty, and in “humiliation”, that we find our true worth to God and our faithfulness manifested.  It is in the dull and ordinary where we are to live according to our personal relationship to Him.  Jesus went down from the Mount of Transfiguration to the cross where He was glorified:

“After every time of exaltation we are brought down with a sudden rush into things as they are, where things are neither beautiful nor poetic nor spiritual nor thrilling. The height of the mountaintop is measured by the drab drudgery of the valley. We never live for the glory of God on the mount, we see His glory there, but we do not live for His glory there; it is in the valley that we live for the glory of God. Our Lord came down from the Mount into the valley and went on to the Cross where He was glorified; and we have to come down from the mount of exaltation into the drab life of the valley. It is in the sphere of humiliation that we find our true worth to God, and that is where our faithful- ness has to be manifested. Most of us can do things if we are always at the heroic pitch; but God wants us at the drab, commonplace pitch, where we live in the valley according to our personal relationship to Him. We can all be thrilled by appeals to do things in an ecstatic way, by moments of devotion, but that is never the work of God’s grace, it is the natural self- ishness of our own hearts. We can all do the heroic thing, but can we live in the drab humiliating valley where there is nothing amazing, but mostly disaster, certainly humiliation, and emphatically everything drab and dull and mean?6 That is where Jesus Christ lived most of His life.”