Up the Mountain and Down the Mountain
One of the unique accounts in the Gospels is when Jesus is on the mountain with Peter, James, and John. We know that experience as the “transfiguration.” In the wake of that is a key detail that has always riveted my attention. Peter offers to do something to honor Jesus and the prophets, to “stay in the mountaintop experience” a while longer. The account ends with Jesus leading them back down the mountain to the need of the valley.
I think of that experience at the end of every vacation, every study leave, and–this week–at the conclusion of my sabbatical. Vacation has meaning because of the work we do. Mountain-top experiences with Christ prepare us and sustain us for the challenge of the valley. We often sing a song in worship with lyrics that say this: “The God of the mountain, is the Lord of the valley.” We often equate valleys with the “lows” of life. But I take issue with that. The valleys are the places where we work, cultivate, and where we produce and express our purpose. We need BOTH (mountain and valley).
This week is the return of the valley. The mountain top of rest, reading, journaling, recreating, pondering, listening, and thinking equips for the return to the important investment in the valley. I have pursued my calling since 1979, and I still get pumped up for returning to that expression, “Here in this place.” I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie, and the adrenaline for paragliding over the mountain ridges and peering through my feet at the floor 3,000 feet below gives way to the adrenaline of inspiring coaches and preaching and counseling men and women about life. I love both, as different as they are.
Jesus knew that just as one goes up the mountain for rest and refreshment, the same trail returned to the need and challenge of the valley. And today, I’m very grateful for the gift that was entrusted to me for refreshment, learning, and rest so that I could return to the passionate challenge of loving people toward Jesus. Besides, going back to the valley means going back home! As the saying goes, “Home is where the heart is!”