Mountains & Valleys
Have you ever had mountaintop experience? An experience when you felt closer to the Lord than ever before? I was blessed, through my four years of highschool, to have many mountaintop experiences. Some were on a literal mountain in Colorado at a church camp. Others were when I was far away, serving alongside other Christians in Nicaragua and Haiti. These experiences bring me hope, draw me closer to God, and give me strength.
But what about when there is not a mountaintop? What about the times when it feels like you are in a valley and God is up on the mountain? C. S. Lewis, in his book The Screwtape Letters, addresses this very idea. Lewis says that a “trough of dryness” (43) is simply part of the human periods of “undulation” (highs and lows) that come through everyday life. Mountain tops are the peaks, the mission trips, the “come to Jesus” moments, the times when things are going well. Troughs are the shadowy valleys, the lost jobs, the troubles at school, the loss.
Lewis says that mountaintops bring more physical highs, as well as more resistance to the enemy. That is one possible reason why it feels “easier” when we are flying high on a mountaintop experience. We feel closer to God and the enemy often draws away. But that moment we begin coming down off the mountain, everything starts returning to normal.
The lows in life cause a “man’s whole inner world (to be) drab and cold and empty”. (Lewis 44) In troughs, direct attacks on faith come often. We assume that the trough is permanent. We wonder what we did to get here. We think that we have somehow lost faith or the enemy begins to try and convince us that our faith is a “phase” (Lewis 46).
In Exodus 34, Moses had an experience when he went onto Mount Sinai to receive the 10 Commandments for the second time. In Exodus 33:18, Moses said to the Lord “Please let me see your glory.” The Lord agreed and Moses, a lowly human, was permitted to be in the presence of the Lord when He passed. Then, the Lord gave him the law of the covenant for Israel.
“Moses was there with the Lord for 40 days and 40 nights. He did not drink bread or eat water. He wrote the Ten Commandments, the words of the covenant, on the tablets. As Moses descended from Mount Sinai- with the two tablets of the law in his hands as he descended the mountain- he did not realize that the skin of his face shone as a result of his speaking with the Lord.” (34:28-29)
Talk about a mountaintop experience! Moses was able to be in the presence of the Lord. Even his skin showed it. He had seen God’s glory in person. Yet, even Moses had to come down from the mountain. He had to return to the people he was leading. He had to go back to the Israelites and tell them of his mountaintop experience.
It’s not possible for us to live on the mountaintop forever. In life’s undulations, even a high can begin to feel monotone to humans. But, when we come down from the mountain, we should be prepared for the valley that will invariable come again. We also should and must be ready to share with others about our mountaintop, as Moses did when he returned from Mount Sinai (Exodus 35).
Where are you right now? Are you resting on your mountaintop, hoping it never ends? Are you struggling in a valley, wondering where to go next? Are you somewhere in-between, heading up or down the mountain and fighting for a foothold? Remember, wherever you are, the Lord is there. Psalm 139:7-12 says
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there;if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”
The Lord is with us in the mountain or the valley and He will never leave us there.