Mountains, Valleys, or Somewhere in the Middle
Recently, while moving across the country to our new duty station, my family and I took advantage of the landscape to take in some incredible beauty. One of our most favorite places to visit and hike is in Chimney Rock, North Carolina. The climb is steep, but so worth the effort.
You see, the view at the top will take your breath away. The rolling richness of the Smoky Mountains sprawls out before you like a visual feast. Truly, there is just something about being in that place that makes me feel closer to Jesus. Like the view, the fresh, crisp air somehow transcends the space I typically find myself living in. Life just seems a bit more clear up there.
Yes, I love the mountaintop. I love the clarity, the provision, the beauty, the intentional awe.
Whenever I get to visit there, I find myself imagining building a home right there in that spot. Before I even realize it, I am making plans to stay. Within my mind I place the foundations, imagine the windows and even the flowers I will plant there. It’s silly, really, but every time I go there, my flesh reaches out to plant roots.
But my address isn’t on a mountaintop.
I’m not alone in this craving, either. The disciples went up to that mountaintop with Jesus and before their very eyes, seven loaves and two fish multiplied into a feast beyond what they could have imagined. They watched Him hold it up and bless it. Then they watched the miracle multiply over and over again until everyone (including themselves) were satisfied. (See the gospel of Matthew and Mark for the complete story.)
Most people stop reading the story at that point. Miracle accomplished. That’s the end. But it’s not. Actually, I think the real miracle did not happen on that mountaintop at all. It happened on a lake, down in the shadow of that very mountain.
Go ahead and keep reading…
“Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of Him to Bethsaida, while He dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, He went up on a mountainside to pray. When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and He was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night He went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw Him walking on the lake, they thought He was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw Him and were terrified. Immediately He spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Then He climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.”
You see, the disciples got caught up in the mountaintop experience and forgot that it wasn’t the experience of the miracle that made the impact. It was the presence of Jesus. It wasn’t the provision that should have astounded, but the Provider. The people brought their sick and lame to Jesus, not so that He could give them food, but so that He could give them life.
The scripture says that the disciples were amazed when Jesus spoke to them from the water. They were amazed when he climbed into the boat and the wind died down. They just didn’t understand that what they could see and experience doesn’t always match what actually is. The access to peace had nothing to do with the storm, the rising water, or wind. Their provision already belonged to them.
Hear me…Jesus is not concerned with real estate. Mountaintop or deepest valley, His Presence is always enough.
The height of the waves don’t rattle Him.
The howling storms don’t shake Him.
The fiercest enemies don’t intimidate Him.
Because where He is, there is peace.
Where He is, there is hope.
Where He is, there is a feast, a well that won’t run dry, and a joy that is inexhaustible.
Where He is, there is freedom.
Where you are, beloved, He is. And just like those disciples, there is nowhere you can go or be where you will be forsaken. Nowhere. Way up on that mountaintop, in the deepest of valleys, or somewhere in the middle, you are not alone. He is there.
My prayer for you today (and for myself) is that we wouldn’t become so enamored by the mountaintop that we forget to look for Him in the valleys and storms, too. And if you find yourself somewhere in the middle, where you may be one oar-stroke away from being closer to the other side than you are the shore, keep rowing, beloved. He is with you. He sees you. He will meet you right where you are and speak courage over you in that place.
The song I want to share with you today is entitled, “Here Again,” live from Elevation Worship. Totally captured the sentiment in my heart, declaring awareness to His Presence right where I am today. Be blessed.
With joy for the journey,