Mountain Top are Great But Valleys are Where We Live
Last Wednesday afternoon was a beautiful clear day and my daughter asked if I would climb a mountain with her. So we climbed Buck MT which overlooks Lake George. After struggling to get to the top we were rewarded with a spectacular and beautiful clear view. There was hardly any wind, the sun was warm, and the lake below sparkled blue. I sat and recovered from the strenuous climb and enjoyed the stay on top of that MT for about an hour, but then we knew we had to leave that beautiful spot for the valley below.
Edward Viesturs is one of the few men who has accomplished what many have not. Maybe some of you know what the 8000’ers are. But for those of you who do not, there are 14 high peaks that are higher than 8000 meters, or 26200 feet. There are very few people who have been able to climb all of these mountains. But there is only a handful that have climbed to the top of all these mountains without bottles of Oxygen; Edward has. Doctors have studied him and have determined that his lungs are larger than any other human beings his size and body weight. It’s as though he had been built with the ability to climb in those high altitudes.
But sometimes great success over a life time is not about what you accomplish as much as knowing who you are, and knowing your own ability and limitations.
You see Edward has a different attitude than most. He is known as a judicial climber. He will sacrifice whatever must be sacrificed, not to reach the top, but to reach the bottom. As a matter of fact his life proves that. There have been two different occasions; one on Everest where he came within 300 feet of the top, but because conditions changed he turned around and descended, knowing he would have to climb it again. On another occasion while climbing another 8000’ers, (I can’t imagine this) he climbed to within 20 feet of the top and turned back knowing he would have to climb that MT again. He knew his limitations, and was wise enough to retreat when in danger. This is a lesson we may all need to learn!
When we think about Mountain top experiences, we also think about those high points in our life. (The birth of a child, our wedding day, the day we become a Christian and put on Jesus in Baptism, a great vacation, or maybe a great seminar, an exciting mission trip like the one I just went on.) Those occasions can be fun, exciting, refreshing, even restful. It’s easy to look at those times as the best of times and value those occasions so highly that we fail to appreciate what’s is in the valleys below.
Transition: I think one of the biggest challenges that Jesus had was to get His disciples to see and think beyond this temporal, physical, earthly realm and open their eyes up to the eternal spiritual realm of God.
I heard someone say that teaching these guys was like trying to clean out a paint roller. Did you ever try to do that? I think that is where all the paint in America goes, it hidden in used paint rollers. It doesn’t all go on the walls. And when you try to clean them out, you rinse and you rinse, and you rinse more and the paint keep coming out. Well the disciples were a little like that.
I wonder how many times as He worked with His disciples and wondered, ‘How long is it going to take you guys to get this. When are you going to understand that how temporary all this is.’ I keep talking about this but you aren’t getting it. It’s like they could only see things from a carnal, earthy point of view. (They liked the thought of having a kingdom, but they only imagined an earthly kingdom. They loved the idea of having a king, but only imagined Him to be an earthly king.)
So Jesus more than once tried to get them to see beyond the physical.
On one particular occasion He took three of his closest disciples on a hike, to the top of a mountain, and they would have what I’d call a mountain top experience. I believe it changed their life, as it should have.
In Mark 9 we read a story that is very familiar to us, usually title the Transfiguration of Jesus. Click on and read Mark 9:1-13
But just before this account in Chapter 8 we read where Jesus informed His disciples that we was going to go down to Jerusalem where at the hands of the elders He would be mistreated, suffer and then be killed, but then He tells them that He would rise again.
But in response we see the earthly mentality of Peter surface again. He rebukes Jesus, probably telling Him that no way was that going to happen.
Jesus probably thought, ‘Why are you saying this Peter? Is it because you are such a good and spiritual man. Or, are you doing it because you are looking at this thru those selfish, temporal, carnal lenses again?’
Jesus was so offended by Peter’s narrow earthly view He spoke to him more harshly than almost anyone else we read about in scripture. In vs. 33 He called him Satan and told him in so many words ‘get out of MY face, and get behind me.’
He told him that he did not have ‘the things of God in mind, rather the earthly, carnal things of man.’
‘How long have I worked with you 12, and all you can think about is the here and now, the temporary things of this world.’
And then in Chapter 9:1 we read that, ‘six days later…’ Did Jesus let them ponder what he told Peter that day? (That all they thought about was the earthly, temporal things of this world?)
What about you? Are you only living for what you can get in the here and now? Are you oblivious to how temporary all this is? Jesus one said, “What good is if you gain the whole world, yet lose your soul?”
So then Jesus took Peter, James and John up a mountain, and what an amazing story. The four of them got away from the valley for a little while. It’s not so much about where they are, rather what happens there. In verse 2 it says, “There He was transfigured before them. 3 His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.” Matthews account said that His face shined like the sun.
This word ‘transfiguration’ is actually the word metamorphosis in the original Greek. It is also used in other passages concerning us. In Romans 12:2 it says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed (or morphed) by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
And in 2 Cor. 3:18 lets Christians know that we are being transformed, (or morphed) ”into the image our of Lord with ever increasing glory.”
Here Peter, James, and John were seeing Jesus transformed before their very eyes. They got a peak at His true glory as He temporarily transformed.
Not only that, then they saw and heard Elijah and Moses speaking with Jesus. Peter, James and John saw with their own eyes that these men were alive, they could recognize them, and could hear what they were talking about.
And what were they talking about? In Luke’s account, in Lk. 9:31 it said that they were talking about Jesus’ departure which would take place in Jerusalem. Just what Jesus discussed with them about 6 days earlier.
I want you to notice something here. Notice how they did not speak of His death from a sad earthly point of view, rather they describe death as a departure, when we leave here.
Much more could be said about this story, but this is what I want you see here today. Yes, Jesus was changed on that mountain top, but so too were those three men: Peter, James and John. Their eyes were more opened to the eternal spiritual realm of God than ever before.
I’m sure they would have loved to stay right there on top of that mountain with those who were before their eyes, but just like Moses had to come down from the MT top after speaking to God, we read in Mk.9:9 they also had to return to the valley. Sometimes it more important to come down off the mountain top and return to the valley below. And hopefully they returned, as refreshed change men, taking something good with them to share with others.
Wednesday after Leah and I got home we shared our stories with Nancy, and then later I share some on my Facebook page along with a few beautiful picture we took. And likewise this experience probably had a huge impact on those men. They eventually shared what they saw on that MT that day. I am sure they excited, awed, and revitalized by their MY top experience. I’m sure it changed their life and opened their eyes wider to the awesome eternal nature of the spiritual realm.
I am here to tell you today that these mountain top experience are not only important for us, they are beneficial. We occasionally need to experience them if we hope to remain strong and effective. More than once we read that Jesus went up and into the mountains to pray. It was a place He went to get re-focused, re-energized, and I believe it helped Him cope and deal with the stress of this world.
We need some mountain top experiences as well; times and places where we can get re-energized and get our minds re-focused on what is important. That’s why churches have seminars, Ladies Teas, Youth Rallies, Men’s retreats Area-Wide-Sings, and why some go to the sight and sound theater, and more; hopefully to get built up, to learn more and open our eyes to spiritual truth, to help you to change and morph into the image of Christ. But then we need to come down to the valley where we can serve and share the good things that God has done for us with others.
There is too much work to do to stay on the Mountain tops. Too many people are dying without Jesus. So go to the Mt. top rest and get your priorities right, but come down ready for work and so that you can share your story of how and why God is so good.
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