Thursday, June 10, 2010

On the Mountain And In the Valley

MountaintopThirty-three year-old truck driver Larry Walters was one day sitting in a lawn chair in his backyard wishing he could fly. For as long as he could remember he had wanted to fly but never had the time nor money nor opportunity to be a pilot. So he spent a lot of summer afternoons sitting in his backyard in his ordinary old aluminum lawn chair. He came up with what he thought was a good idea. He hooked 45 helium-filled surplus weather balloons to his chair, put a CB radio in his lap, tied a paper bag full of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to his leg, and slung a BB gun over his shoulder to pop the balloons when he wanted to come down.

He expected his lawn chair to lift off and climb a couple of hundred feet over his neighborhood. But instead he shot up 11,000 feet right through the approach corridor to the Los Angeles International Airport. When the police finally rescued him with a helicopter, and asked why he did it, Larry answered: “Well, I wanted to see what it looked like from up there.” When asked what it looked liked he said, “Awesome, man!”

I don’t know if I would feel close to God in a lawn chair at 11,000 feet but I do enjoy a good mountaintop experience. When you are on a mountaintop, you see how big the world is that God made and it makes you feels smaller. In the Bible, some important events took place on mountains. God provided a ram for Abraham on Mt. Moriah. He delivered the Ten Commandments to Moses on a Mt. Sinai. Elijah held his famous God-contest on Mt. Carmel. Jesus was transfigured on a mountaintop while three of His disciples looked on in amazement.

Maybe you’ve had some mountaintop experiences—at a retreat or camp or conference—and you saw the glory of the Lord in a new way. Mountaintop experiences are wonderful, but just like Jesus and His disciples, we have to leave the mountain to go down in the valley. Luke tells about the valley in 9:37-45.

The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him. A man in the crowd called out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him. I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not.”

“O unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.”

Even while the boy was coming, the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the evil spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father. And they were all amazed at the greatness of God. While everyone was marveling at all that Jesus did, he said to his disciples, “Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men.” But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.

ValleyOn the mountaintop is a brilliant Savior, glowing with the glory of God. In the valley there are messed up people who cry out for help. On the mountaintop is holy worship. Down in the valley there is hard work. On the mountain we find strength and serenity. In the valley we find frustration and failure. On the mountaintop is delight. In the valley, there are demons, disease and even death.

Don’t be afraid. For as David wrote, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me.” (Psalm 23:4)

I always want to be on the mountain experiencing the glory of God in worship. But I also want to be in the valley reaching out to hurting people.

Where do you find yourself today, on the mountain or in the valley?

See also, Worship Is Not Just for Sundays .


  1. Somewhere on the slopes I suppose. Reaching always reaching for the next toehold on this journey of faith. The paradox about the life of the disciple is we climb and climb only to find when we reach the heights that God was preparing us to return to the valley to encourage those "below" along.

    Your post reminded me of a song by Bebo Norman "Walk Down This Mountain".

    Also reminds me of the book "Hinds Feet on High Places" by Hannah Hurnard, reaching the high places so that we have what it takes to return to the valley.

    "walk down this mountain with your heart held high, follow in the footsteps of your Maker."

  2. Prairie Chick, I have enjoyed reading your blog since I found it a few days ago. Thanks for stopping by here and commenting.

    I read "Hind's Feet" years ago and got so much insight from it in my walk with God. I gave the book to my daughter. Maybe I should get it back and re-read it.

    I listened to the Norman song. I had not heard it before. Thanks for sharing it.


  3. Richard, I like the story that you shared because I always feel like a champion when I do things for God that seem crazy or impossible. Even if they don't work out as I had planned (just like the man in the lawn chair). It is exhilarating to pursue God's work when I have to exhaust myself to achieve the goal.

  4. Larry, another quote from Larry Walters when he was asked why: "Sometimes you just can't sit there and do nothing."
    When God urges us to do something, no matter how crazy, it's better than doing nothing.

  5. I am trying to use the mountain tops as just a place to reflect and rest, not a place of accomplishment or finality.

    My goal is that final mountain that has no valley on the other side. It doesn't matter if it's a valley or mountain that I am traveling, I just try to enjoy my journey with Jesus who is with me.

    I say all this, not to disagree with your post, but to re-evaluate my relationship with Christ. At a not so distant time in the past, the peak was where I tried to get to as fast as I could. I wore myself out so much getting there, that it took me twice as long to get motivated to go into that valley again.

  6. I really appreciate the definition of the mountaintop as a place of glory and worship while the valley is a place of hard work, but at the same time, I think the real glory comes when that mountaintop experience falls on the valleys. Me personally, I have no idea where I am (which probably means I'm deeper in the valley than I like to admit) but the goal is to bring that mountaintop glory and worship into whatever situation I'm in.

  7. Reminds me of a song by Amy Grant.

    Mountain Top lyrics

    I love to sing and I love to pray,
    Worship the Lord most every day.
    I go to the temple, and I just want to stay
    To hide from the hustle of the world and its ways.

    And I'd
    Love to live on a mountain top,
    Fellowshipping with the Lord.
    I'd love to stand on a mountain top,
    'Cause I love to feel my spirit

    But I've got to come down
    From the mountain top
    To the people in the valley below;
    They'll never know
    That they can go
    To the mountain of the Lord.

  8. Kevin, That what I tried to say by the title, "On the Mountain AND in the Valley". So many Christians try to go from one mountain-top experience to another: from conference to seminar to camp to retreat to worship service to ...whatever. But Jesus is just as real and glorious in the valley as He is on the mountain-top. Maybe even more so, though it is harder for us to get our eyes off the distractions of the world and really gaze at the Savior.

    It is in the valley where the real ministry and mission take place. Even though it is not always easy and pleasant, it can be glorious and joyful. That's why I want to be on the mountain AND in the valley.


  9. Seiji, I agree. As I just commented to Kevin, Jesus was still the same glorious Lord that He was on the mountain even when He and the disciples came back down. His character and divine nature did not change as He descended into the valley. But sometimes it's harder for us to see in the midst of all the difficulties of life in the valley.

    Mountain-tops are good for reminding us of the greatness and majesty of Jesus 'cause sometimes we forget. And also sometimes I think Jesus wants us to just seek Him more than the feeling of the mountain-top. Because as you say, that mountaintop glory is real no matter what situation I'm in.


  10. Ronnie and Wendy, I love that old Amy Grant song. Have not heard it in years. It gives the same message I was trying to convey. Thanks for reminding me. --Richard


Thank you for commenting. I appreciate your thoughts and opinions on this post.