maintaining (or misunderstanding) the mountaintop

Have you had one of those mountaintop experiences? Maybe it was in your sport. You reached the playoffs. It was tied and with only seconds left you hit the buzzer beater. Maybe it was in your education: you finally passed that class you needed with the grade you needed in order to graduate. Or you scored just what you needed on your standardized test. Maybe it was in your job with a new promotion, or in your marriage with a fantastic time of oneness and being on the same page regarding your children or your future.

These moments are great, but how do we make them last? Or maybe, that is the wrong thought altogether. Maybe they aren’t supposed to last. Maybe those mountaintop moments are not really what we want to duplicate, but the feelings and emotions from those moments. That is what I want. I want the peace and joy that I had during those moments. I don’t need for that particular event to happen again and again. I want to have that same peace I had.

The key is to rejoice in the Lord always. In everything give thanks. Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord. The mountain top is not where we live. We live down in the trenches, fighting with ourselves, each other, and sin. Yet the key to continuing the feeling of those experiences that we recall with fondness is to allow everything to bring the same thankfulness in us. I need to praise the Lord when I humiliate myself. I need to thank God for the opportunity and for what He is doing in me. I need to be grateful when I don’t get the promotion but instead get yelled at. I need to bless the Lord at all times and let His praise continually be in my mouth. Did someone steal a dollar from me? Did they steal $1,000? Bless the Lord. Did my boss fire me without cause? Bless the Lord. Did our business-changing deal fall through? Rejoice. Did we not get the house we wanted? Give thanks. Did your marriage end through the destructiveness of sin? Give God thanks. Has God called your young child to Heaven through a hard fought disease? Thank Him for knowing what is best and for doing it.

Wow, that is hard to write. It is hard to live. It is what the Bible teaches though. We come up with all kinds of excuses for not doing so in those circumstances. We ask “how can someone praise God in these things?” Really we need to ask, “God, please help me to praise you in this!” When we assume something to be impossible instead of just doing it, we impose on ourselves a limitation that will not let us do what we need to do. We think of Paul and Silas singing in prison and we think: “If I’m ever in prison then I will sing too.” God hasn’t cast you in prison, so sing to Him now. Why wait? It is like when many men say they would die for their wives or their family but won’t put the remote down to take out the trash or to play with their kids. Why not do what you claim to be willing to do in the hard circumstances? Do it now in the easier circumstances.

The real mountaintop is not in an experience, but in the joy of the Lord. When things are great within relationships or within social settings there is a peace that we enjoy, but the peace in our hearts that passes all understanding is not dependent on those things. That is the peace we need to lean on; not the other temporary peace. The solution is to thank God.

We won’t escape the pain of this life while we are here. But that doesn’t mean that amid  the mess we can’t still have the joy of the Lord and thank Him for these things. The mountaintop we should expect and experience is a daily thankfulness to God. It is a constant praising of His name for his greatness. Our true mountaintop is when we have learned in whatever state we are in to be content and to thank the Lord for it.

Don’t ignore or excuse a Scripture because it is hard. Pray that God will allow you to worship Him through what He commands in that verse. God has given us everything we need for life and godliness – including the ability to give thanks and praise Him in the hard circumstances. Don’t run from or allow our life experiences to skew Scripture. Instead pray that God will give you the experiences that line up with what Scripture says our lives should be like.

I don’t pretend its easy, but until we recognize that it is indeed possible we won’t begin to try to give thanks in everything. Once we realize from God’s Word that it is possible, we might also see that it is in God’s peace and continual thankfulness that we will find contentment. We will find the mountaintop joy maintained by the sustaining goodness of God. May God grant the grace in our lives for us to thank Him continually.


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