Nature is incredible. From the roaring seas to the rolling hills, God’s handiwork is breathtaking. His attention to detail is mind boggling. His diversity is overwhelming. Everywhere you look, you can see His fingerprints. The Earth is full of God’s brilliance and creativity.
One of the amazing aspects of nature is it often reflects our spiritual journey. We often recognize seasons in our lives and how they mimic the four seasons God instituted. We compare the desert to times of spiritual drought. We look at rain and can compare that to Holy Spirit saturating our dry and thirsty souls like the rain hydrates the Earth.
One of our favorite spiritual comparisons is found in the mountains. These majestic, bastions of strength rise out of the Earth in mystery and beauty. Their peaks are inspiring points of awe and wonder. We long to explore their heights and stake our flag on its summits. We want to see the world from the top. The climb is rugged, strenuous, and treacherous, but the thrill of adventure and the vantage point of its summit is worth the struggle.
Climbing a mountain brings such a sense of accomplishment and victory. It’s fulfilling to have navigated such steep terrain. You feel as though you have conquered something. It’s rewarding to see the world from the bird’s eye view of its peaks. From this position, we can see things we’ve never seen before, things previously hidden, things far into the distance. Its panoramic view is exhilarating and thrilling.
This parallels our spiritual journey perfectly. We navigate through the traps and snares of the enemy as we press our way upward, deeper into the Father’s heart. We climb up the rough terrain of life to stand on the crest of God’s promises. We scale the obstacles of our humanity as we explore the new heights of our identity in Christ. We do all this to reach the pinnacle of the experience: the view. With the effort of pressing through comes the reward of the mountain top: panoramic views. From this position we see things we’ve never seen before, things previously hidden, things far into the distance. It’s on the mountain top that we receive the bird’s eye view of revelation. Here, the discovery of our journey unfolds as Holy Spirit begins to show us how things connect, what they mean and gives us clarity. We see God’s character and heart more clearly. We see the past with a clearer perspective. We see aspects of the future. We connect with the triumph of Christ’s victory. And it’s thrilling. Exhilarating. Satisfying.
We love mountain top experiences.
However, you can’t live on a mountain top. Just like an actual mountain peak in uninhabitable, a spiritual peak is as well. It’s perfect for exploring, discovery and sight-seeing, but you cannot live there. It’s barren, isolated and you cannot build on it. You can linger for a bit, but life there is not sustainable.
While we were made to climb mountains, we were also made to live in the valley.
Spiritually speaking, no one likes to live in the valley. We imagine the valley as low, difficult, dark places. We don’t want to visit much less live there. But the reality is, the valley is the ideal place to live. Full of vegetation and water, it’s teeming with life. There are resources in the valley. Provision. Things grow and flourish in the valley. Instead of jagged rocks and sloping terrain, you have even valley floor, ideal for building and establishing. Instead of rocky soil, there is soft, green grass growing from deep, rich, fertile soil.
You’ll also find pastures and meadows in the valley – places of rest.
Psalm 23:1-3 (NASB) The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.He restores my soul;
Ezekiel 34:14-16 (Msg) God, the Master, says: From now on, I myself am the shepherd. I’m going looking for them. As shepherds go after their flocks when they get scattered, I’m going after my sheep. I’ll rescue them from all the places they’ve been scattered to in the storms. I’ll bring them back from foreign peoples, gather them from foreign countries, and bring them back to their home country. I’ll feed them on the mountains of Israel, along the streams, among their own people. I’ll lead them into lush pasture so they can roam the mountain pastures of Israel, graze at leisure, feed in the rich pastures on the mountains of Israel. And I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep. I myself will make sure they get plenty of rest.
In the valley, Jesus nurtures and care for us, supplying everything we need. Yes, He travels with us to the mountain top, helping and rescuing all through the journey. But it is in the valley where He restores and revitalizes us, preparing us for the next mountain top experience. A healthy spiritual journey will include both experiences. There will be the thrill of the mountain top. But there must also be the restoration of the valley. And in all honesty, the mountain tops will not be nearly as exhilarating if we don’t choose the rest of the valley.