If you’ve been in church for awhile, you’ve probably heard the term “mountaintop experience” or mountaintop “high.” Am I wrong? It was a buzzword while I was coming up through my youth group. It might have been a weekend retreat or summer camp, or simply great day… a mountaintop high with Jesus. A feeling that I’d always challenge myself to hold on to even in my regular life. And sometimes, mountaintop experiences were/are the sweetest of sweet, full of joy and gratitude and refreshment. But growing up, I’ve learned something invaluable:
God can be experienced powerfully and deeply in the valley as well as on the mountaintop.
Life is so unpredictable; I could be on the mountaintop and in the valley in the same week! Sometimes the mountaintops aren’t all that they are cracked up to be, and sometimes the valleys can be transforming.
To take a different step, I’ve noticed that oftentimes when I desperately want to stay on the mountaintop, it results in fear of honesty, of humility, and I’m paralyzed by perfectionism. On the mountaintop, I’m isolated, and there isn’t a lot of breathing room. I feel like a freezer forever attempting to keep myself at constant, controlled, appealing temperature. If I aim to live on the mountaintop, there’s no room to slip so I exhaust myself trying to stay there. It is usually lonely, because the unrealistic standard hardly leaves room for others to join me. The mountaintop is sometimes where we daily try our best to do godly things, produce spiritual fruit, and put on a mask of ‘put-together-ness.’ Am I making any sense?
Then there’s the valley. Normally looked down upon, often judged or feared, and sometimes a battle. But the valley is where the rivers run, it’s where the soil is. The valley is where I have all kinds of space to spread out, to connect with others who are there (which is probably everyone, if they are honest), to practice letting people see my raw insides. It’s where shields can come down, where I look up to see God more clearly, where I can slow down enough to listen.
To be honest, with all of this neck trouble I’m having, it puts me in a valley of sorts. I’m uncomfortable 80% of the time, I’m slightly discouraged, I’m even a little indifferent, unmotivated some areas. My normal routine of activity and exercise has been thrown off, and I’m trying to re-acclimate. But, in His grace, I feel God saying,
“Girl, here is where you are. Get the Valley Chair out of the closet and have a seat. My eye is on you. I am with you. Sit with Me in this time. Rest and trust the good purposes I have for this.”
Valleys vary from person to person, from season to season, and can be a rich time.
- Here is where I can confront how I place my identity/worth in worldly endeavors.
- Here is where I can experience a dependence on God that is unmatched.
- Here is where I can be vulnerable with my husband and close friends, confessing my weakness.
- Here is where I remember that my body is only a jar of clay, and that it can manifest Jesus no matter what state it is in, if I choose.
- Here is where I slow down, recognize Jesus as my indomitable joy, and treasure my reality as a child of God’s.
In a valley, I practice honesty. I practice asking for help (of people and of His Spirit). I practice confession. I practice a spirit of presence + intimacy, in contrast to working + fixing. I practice gratitude. I practice ‘Gospeling myself,’ haha.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you! Psalm 84:11-12