It was the beginning of fall last year, on a beautiful sunny Saturday, my wife and I invited our best friends to go hiking with us. We drove to Hamden and parked right across from Quinnipiac University, and we went on a hike up “Sleeping Giant State Park.” The road up the mountain is a little rugged but it’s not that hard of a hike, and having companions along the way to converse with certainly made it easier to bear. On the mountaintop there is a castle, I believe, and anyone can make their way to the roof of that ancient structure in order to explore. Sitting on the roof of that edifice on the mountaintop was quiet an experience, because the air is crisp, the view is indescribable, and the breeze feels like a reward for making it up there. Being on the mountaintop, I just wanted to stay up there for as long as possible, not only to enjoy the infinite beauty of God’s creation but also to escape for a brief moment the reality that awaits in the valley below.
We all have had mountaintop experiences in our lives, and we also understand the opposite is true and inevitable: walking through the valleys of life. Mountaintop experiences are moments in life when we can clearly grasp God’s power and blessings in our lives. From a biblical perspective, a mountaintop experience can be transcendent because it is outside of the realm of what the human mind can comprehend. Elijah had a mountaintop experience with God on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18. 19), where he experienced the very power of God who gave him the victory over his enemies. Moses had a mountaintop experience on Mount Sinai (Exodus 19, 31, 32), where he experienced the very presence of God. Also, let us not forget Jesus’ mountaintop experience with his disciples Peter, James, and John (Mark 9), where the Son of God experienced what we now know as “The Transfiguration.” It was such a beautiful and transcendent moment that Peter said “It is good for us to be up here,” and he wanted to put up a few shelters and stay up there on the mountaintop with Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. Like Peter, we all wish mountaintops were more permanent. Also, just like Peter, Moses, and Elijah, we cannot escape the difficult reality and challenges of life that await us all in the valley below. When Elijah got down in the valley, he had to deal with death threats from Jezebel. Moses had to deal with a sinful and ungrateful people whom God had just led out of Egypt. Jesus had to go back to work healing folks and facing the reality of this death.
Maybe mountaintop experiences are meant to prepare us for the valleys below. We all have experienced God’s hands and blessings in our lives, and currently we are all going through this valley of virus together. It is easy to profess our faith on the mountaintop when things are lean and great, but now that we are going through this dark valley together our faith is being tested. Can we boldly proclaim together “Though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil: for you are with me” (Ps 23: 4). If I may, let me rephrase this verse: “Though we walk through the valley of COVID-19, we will fear no evil; for God is with us.” Beloved, currently our faith is being put through the test in order to prove how genuine it is, because only walking through the valleys of life can our faith be truly tested (1 Peter 1: 6 – 7) . Remember, the God of the mountaintop is the same God down in the valley (1 Kings 20: 23 – 28). The same reason we know we were safe and secure on the mountaintop ought to be the same reason we are safe and secure walking through this valley of virus today: God is with us, always.
Grace, Peace, and Love