Mountaintop experiences are awesome–we can see so far, we feel the exhilaration of the heights, the closeness of heaven–but take a look around you on the mountaintop. On a high mountain, very little grows. The trees have turned to spindly shrubs, tufts of grass cling here and there, but much of the ground is simply barren rock. Mountaintops are wonderful to broaden our vision, enjoy the beauty of the overall picture, and to gain perspective, but it’s in the valley that things really grow!
So it is with our spiritual lives. We can’t spend them entirely on the mountaintops. We love the retreats, the revivals, those times of joy and refreshment, but need to accept the fact that a journey confined to a mountaintop can go only in circles. In order to travel on, we must descend the mountain and again pass through a valley. As we go lower, we can’t see as far, we may not feel the same thrill, but we can carry with us the memory of the vision we were given on the mountaintop.
As you descend the mountain, look around you. Notice that the trees get taller, the grass gets more lush. And when you reach the wide valley, you realize that the plants grow there in rich profusion. That is the fertile soil–the place where growth is luxuriant. And it’s there that we also can grow!
We don’t always like the way the valley feels. It is darker and harder to see, and though we can sometimes look up at the mountaintops, they are way beyond our reach. Besides the lack of vision, sometimes the valley is uncomfortable. Growth is sometimes not enjoyable, and if you’ve ever seen an orchard during pruning time, you know that some aspects of it can be downright painful. However, those things are necessary to produce the best fruit. It is the same in our spiritual walks; we find ourselves being pruned and shaped, and we cringe at it, but know that it is necessary in order for the fruit to grow and ripen in the best possible way.
The mountaintop is the overlook–the point in your journey where you stop and assess where you have been and get a glimpse of where you are going. Those things are hard to see in the forests of the valley, so we always appreciate the view while we are there, but we have to press on, back down into a new valley where we can continue to grow. Going back into the valley is a hard choice, but knowing that our Lord will walk the path with us gives courage. He knows the way perfectly and will never lead us astray as long as we continue to follow Him. And passing through the valley gives you access to a new mountain on the other side! 🙂
This morning I read, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” I had never thought much about the fact that this valley is only walked through. There is no mention of stopping or camping or staying there at all! I think that might apply to all the valleys in our lives, as well as the mountaintops–we aren’t to stay, to sit down and rest, we are to continue on, always walking beside the One who is our protection, our support, and our comfort.
Enjoy the mountaintops, but never forget how vital the valleys are.
And always, keep walking!