AS we consider the metaphors of mountains and valleys, we frequently wish to have mountain top experiences and avoid valley encounters. What we fail to understand is that all mountain top experiences are preceded by valley encounters. Besides, the most thrilling aspect of surmounting the summit is the appreciation for the valley below. In addition to that, once you arrive at the summit, if you are to continue life’s journey there is nowhere else to go but down, down in the valley again.
Peter, James, and John learnt that on the mount of transfiguration. The exhilarating experience they had up there: seeing the transfiguration of Jesus, fellowshipping with Moses and Elijah, hearing the voice of God – they wanted to stay on the mountain, but Jesus said, we have to go down again!
It is a great truth that God works on mountains. Elijah evoked that great miracle on Mount Carmel. Moses talked with God on Mount Sanai. Jesus redeemed us on mount Calvary. And the most significant sacrifice that foreshadowed the death of Jesus occurred on Mount Moriah, where Isaac, Abraham’s son’s life was spared, and a ram became the substitute which projected Jesus. So, divinely ordained feats have always transpired on mountain tops.
It’s true, God drives the mountain story.
Surprisingly, a scarcely known mountain experience is found in 1st Kings 20. It starts with King Ben-Hadad of Aram threatening to go up to the hills of Samaria, the capital city of Israel, to fight King Ahab and a depleted Israeli army. The first verse of 1st Kings 20 says, Ben-Hadad mustered his entire army; and that was not enough. So, he brought the armies of 32 other kings with him. But God showed up on that mountain because that is what he does.
How many times have you reached your mountain top experience, and someone dared to take you down a notch or two? How often have you busted your behind, burned the midnight oil, and as soon as you get the promotion, all types of haters come out of the woodwork. The whole time you are driving that jalopy and saving your money no one notices, but when your Lexus pulls in the driveway, the hate begins. But remember, the same God who brought you to the mountain top is able to keep you from falling.
Don’t be daunted by haters because God does not leave when you get to the summit.
God sent a prophet up to Samaria with a message to Ahab, saying don’t you worry. The same God that helped build Samaria on the hilltop still reigns above the mountains and will deliver the Aramean’s army into your hands, along with all the accompanying nations. In the face of those great armies the prophet told Ahab to use only his junior officers and seven thousand soldiers. 1st Kings 20: 19, the junior officers marched …at that, the Arameans fled, Ben-Hadad their king escaped on horseback. Israel inflicted heavy losses on their enemies.
God is effective in the valley too
Verse 23, meanwhile, the officials of the King Be- Hadad advised him: their gods are gods of the hills, that is why they were so strong for us. But if we fight them in the valley, we surely will be stronger than them. It is the same conversation Satan had with God about Job – only if you make him poor and destitute and lonely…
Verse 26, the next spring the Arameans went to Aphek to fight Israel [again]. Verse 28, the man of God came up and told the King of Israel, “because the Arameans say that the Lord is a God of the hills and not God of the valleys, I will deliver this vast army into your hands and you will know, I am the Lord.” Verse 29, the Israelites inflicted one hundred thousand casualties on the Arameans in one day. The rest escaped to the city of Aphek, where the wall collapsed and killed another 27 thousand soldiers while King Ben-Hadad scurried away – they learnt that the God of the mountain is still a big God in the valley too.
Lord of Mountain and Valley
Most of us do tend to associate difficult times in our lives with the idea of being in a valley. Maybe it’s a time of depression or despair. Maybe you’ve lost your job or are struggling financially. Maybe your job performance is just suffering. Maybe it’s a relationship that is broken and appears to be shattered.
You will get in the valley for sure! But for those who are waiting for you to fall, remember: For the God on the mountain Is still God in the valley, when things go wrong, He’ll make them right, And the God of the good times, is still God in the bad times, The God of the day, Is still God in the night (Tracy Dartt). On some occasions, the only times we see God is in our mountain top experience. But the valley is important to him too.
This is what we have to understand:
“It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work, and that when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings” (Wendell Berry).
If there are no rocks or rises and falls that hinder the stream, it ceases its music, and its life becomes still. “Getting found almost always means being lost for a while” (Lamott).
It is in the valley he restores souls:
Dottie Rambo wrote: When I am low in spirit, I cry Lord lift me up. I want to go high with thee. But nothing grows high on the mountain, so he picked out a valley for me. He leads me beside still waters, somewhere in the valley below. He draws me aside to be tested and tried, but in the valley he restoreth my soul.
Your valley experience is as critical as your mountain experience. For it is in trial we learn patience. It is in trial we are refined as pure Gold. It is trial that produces perseverance. Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown. Brethren, enjoy your mountain top experience, but remember, to every mountain, there is a valley below.