I hear it often, “How do I get back to that mountain top experience in my faith?” We experience those mountain tops during intense times of spiritual growth. Sometimes it is through a camp or retreat. Sometimes it is from an event going on in our life. Sometimes we have just had a really solid streak in our devotionals and feel like we are learning more than we could ever have imagined. We love being on top of the mountain. Sooner or later that experience fades. The adrenalin wears down. Life gets in the way. Tragedy strikes. The camps are over. Scripture reading seems tedious. The well is all dried up. Unfortunately, rather than confronting these valleys we scramble to find that mountain top even if it means trying to desperately climb back up the mountain we just came down from. In the process we experience stagnation. Rather than pushing through the valley we stand in the middle of it waiting for a new mountain to magically appear.
It’s a sad reality in our walk on this earth. We will face hardship. We will be confronted with discouragement. We wills sometimes feel distant from God. It is inevitable. If mountains exist then the bottom of those mountains must also exist. We hate leaving the mountain. We hate journeying through emptiness. Rather than pressing on we give in and practically wait to die.
Valleys are crucial in our walk with Christ. We will go through deserts when it appears all hope is lost. Those experiences appear to be torture in the moment, but often lead to intense enlightenment if we confront it properly. The single greatest mistake a Christian in a valley makes is looking for a new mountain rather than asking why they have been placed in the valley. What does God want me to learn here? What truth do I need to grasp? Thus we must travel through the desert.
We do not do that though. We sit and demand God to bring us to a new mountain. We expect to be on an emotional high. We wait until that next church camp or retreat. We wait for that next big blessing in life. We give up on reading God’s word until we feel the hunger to do so. In essence we stop loving and pursuing God in the desert.
Where does this leave us? Sitting in a desert meant to be crossed as we starve to death. I fear the average Christian simply mountain top jumps. We come alive only in this moment where we feel we are at the peak of our faith. We would much rather sit in the valley of the shadow of death rather than walk through it. We starve ourselves between the mountain tops and gorge ourselves on those moments all the while forgetting their bigger purpose. The mountain tops have a few very simple purposes.
They are a time of celebration. Celebrate and delight in all you are learning in your walk. Be thankful to God for his provision and blessings. Rejoice in who He is and delight in that time you have.
They are a time for us to hunger for what lies beyond this life. When I am at my peak I find even that is unable to satisfy the hunger I have to be with my creator. It gives me a small glimpse of what to look forward to. It is a glimpse of life where valleys are no longer part of the journey because they are no longer a necessity. This leads into their last purpose.
They prepare us for the next valley. A valley where the growth may be slower, harder, and more painful, but just as necessary and just as valuable. Imagine how much we miss in our walk with Christ when all we do in the valley is sit, wait, and starve. When God is ready for you to reach the next mountain top you will get there. In the meantime take heart, press forward, and learn the lesson of the valley.