Jesus led them up a high mountain…Mark 9:2
I’m a big fan of hiking, particularly in the mountains. While I’m no wild woman and def have my limits beyond which I’d never go, here in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, there are plenty of options. Some trails are ambling and easy. Others are quite strenuous.
I’ll not soon forget that 3 and 1/2 mile rocky ascent with my oldest daughter. Had I read about this particular hiking trail in greater detail before we set off, I wouldn’t have been surprised by those two wooden ladders bolted at a near 90-degree angle into the rock face. Those things had to be conquered in order to reach the wind blown summit. So not a selfie moment. Especially since I’d not have been able to capture the image anyway with my hands clinging so tightly to each rail.
“C’mon, Mom. They’re just ladders.”
Was the hike worth it? Absolutely.
The exhilaration of the climb, the aesthetics during the ascent, the breathtaking beauty of the landscape below, a super fun companion. And once on the mount, I enjoyed a renewed intimacy with God, the Creator and sustainer of the very surface upon which I stood.
Jesus led Peter, James, and John up a high mountain. I imagine they might have been glad for a change of pace, a break from the challenges of being called into a lifetime of discipleship down in the dusty, hot valley.
There on the mount these disciples were privileged to see Jesus transfigured before them, His clothes transforming into a dazzling white (vs 3). Elijah and Moses appeared before them, as well, and were talking with Jesus (vs 4).
Such a sight! Such power! Such magnificence!
I seriously doubt any of the three were suddenly overwhelmed with a desire to return to the valley below.
In the presence of God on the mount is big stuff. I experience the fullness of His presence, hear Him more clearly, and find rest in His arms. It’s where I’m comfortable. It’s where I like to hang out.
It’s where I like to hang out and stay. Indefinitely.
Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here.” Mark 9:5.
Why does He lead me to the mount? So I can head back down to the valley. To descend to those issues, to those people, to that unfinished business. To a lost and needy world.
Taking up my cross to follow Christ in the valley is downright difficult. Especially when I actually set my mind, heart, body and soul to doing it. Because the valley is the stuff of the world. The hard things, that which I do not want to deal with or be anywhere near. The shootings, the political back-stabbing, the marital strife, the heartbreak of parenting a wayward child, the unexpected diagnosis, the forever-draining bank account…
The place of violence, tension, deceit, and spiritual apathy.
The mount is not meant to ‘teach’ us anything. It is meant to ‘make’ us something. O. Chambers.
So even though I prefer to sit scrunched with my knees hugged against my chest on the mount, Jesus tugs me to standing. And off we go again.
Lord, down below, I see the valley awaits, filled with those who need You. Grant me the power, the willingness and the desire to descend and maybe make it a more pleasant place to be.