The View from the Top

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7 NKJV

I’ve missed a couple of mountaintop experiences in my life. I anticipate that I will miss a few more. Sometimes it’s because of my own weaknesses, like the time I attempted to reach the top of Wheeler Peak in New Mexico. We came so close, but in the end I lacked the stamina to complete the trek. Instead, we reached the point where continuing upward took more than I had. If I had prepared myself better for the experience, I would have made it. A mountaintop missed because of something I did or didn’t do (as in I did drink too many Dr. Peppers and I didn’t do enough exercise).

Sometimes I miss a mountaintop for reasons beyond my control, like the time in Switzerland when we tried to go to the top of Jungfrau. An overnight avalanche had collapsed a tunnel, shutting off the way to the top.

But for the mountaintops I do reach, one thing is true. It is always worth the effort. It is a moment of spectacular beauty and astonishing vision.

I just returned from a trip to the mountains. The air was Autumn crisp and filled with the scent of pine needles and traces of wood smoke wafting from cozy cabins. Golden-yellow leaves fell from the trees like glitter before a backdrop of sapphire sky. Absolutely lovely to breath in, to feel, and to hear the whisper of God in the breeze through the treetops. It was refreshing to just be. The mountains are where God meets me, equips me, restores me, and leads me. I always believe I could stay there forever.

And yet…

As our trip drew to an end, a restlessness stirred within me. I understand that while I am created for the mountaintop, I am called to the valleys.

When I am truly standing on the highest peaks of the tallest mountains, I may feel inexpressible joy…for a while.

The mountaintops give us vision, but nothing grows on the highest peaks.

From the top we see a world missed from the valley floor. We see beyond to other mountaintops.

But in the valleys are where we grow. After all, the God of the mountaintops is also the God of the valleys.

So what do we make of our passion for those mountaintop experiences? Why do we long for those moments?

The mountaintops are where God equips us for the battles raging in the valleys. But if we stay there, if we linger too long, we grow dull to the beauty and majesty of the mountaintop experience. We cease to grow. And that's not God’s plan for us. If it was, then the apostle Paul would never have had to remind us, Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me” Philippians 3:12.

We must have a holy longing to press on. We must have a compelling urge to return to the valley as part of the world’s most urgent rescue mission.

That restlessness in my soul as we wound down our trip is an invitation from God to be a part of something bigger, grander, something of far more worth to the kingdom than the restful ease of the mountaintop. It is an invitation to go back to the valley below and engage in the sacred mission of helping others reach their own mountaintops.

What we see on the mountaintop isn’t for ourselves alone. We must take the truth we’ve found back into the depths of despair, indifference, and disbelief found in the depths below.

"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news..."

We say to those about to give up “Don’t surrender. Don’t stop. Don’t become weary in fighting the good fight.”

We tell them, “I’ve seen what lies beyond this valley and it is good. I have seen beyond this battle to the victory that is yours. Keep going! Don’t give up! Your mountaintop awaits.”

Christian, are you weary from the fight? In a year marked by with COVID19, record setting wildfires, rioting, political animosity, isolation, job losses and the growing wickedness of hatred and division, who hasn’t felt a weariness that goes beyond the need for a few days away?

If this is you, then I say "Don’t give up. Don’t become weary or disheartened. Yes, there is a battle to fight, but victory awaits."

Many Christians have become exhausted, disgusted, jaded, and worn over the past several months. Too many want to throw in the towel. The fight seems to be just too much.

But I say "Not now. Keep going. Persevere. One breath, one moment, one day at a time. Persevere for what is true, for what is holy and righteous and good."

You have a stewardship to carry out wherever you are. For Americans, one of the most important things we can steward is our vote. We have an election to consider in the coming weeks. We have a future--both earthly and eternal--to consider. Is it messy and unpleasant and often discouraging to watch what’s happening in the political mud fight and societal disintegration? Absolutely.

But it is in the darkest valleys that the fiercest battles are fought, and the greatest victories won.

A few weeks ago I attended a weekend women’s event…and Jesus was there. The fumes of hatred and the heat of the world’s anger had left my soul feeling parched and distant from the mountaintop. But Jesus met me there. On my knees on a concrete floor in a worship center with sheet metal walls, He lifted me up and carried me to the mountaintop. And do you know what I saw?

I saw the other side of this dark valley. I saw beyond the battle raging on the earth right now at the hand of demonic forces. I saw victory. I saw joy. I saw the restoration of all things.

I saw the love that awaits us as we fall into our Savior’s arms.

Now with my feet—or in this case my fingers—I come down from that mountain to share the good news. There is peace and good things. There is victory and salvation.

Don’t give up! Don’t grow weary! Keeping going! I’ve seen the other side and it is worth every ounce of our perseverance.

It is worth it for this country. It is worth it for our children and our children’s children on down to a thousand generations. It is worth it to know the joy of the Lord when one day we celebrate the ultimate victory in the presence of God.

But until then, we must keep doing everything we can with all we’ve been given.

And I challenge you…if your feet aren’t eager to run to the valley with encouragement for your brothers and sisters in Christ, if you aren’t longing to set the captives free, or to carry the sword of freedom into the darkest of nights ( or your vote into the polls), then have you ever really been to the top of the mountain?

We can’t settle for the contentment of camping on the side of the mountain because we’ve grown weary. We must press on until we see beyond the valley. Then we charge back to the valley with the good news like a fireman rescuing an infant from a burning building.

The world needs to know that we’ve seen the other side, and its name is Victory.

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