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A Mountain Top Experience

February 5, 2016

I have always loved the mountains. The crisp, clean air, crystal clear mountain lakes and streams, the scent of the towering pines, the lookout views, the night sky populated with bright stars, the awesome grandeur of the craggy peaks, geological wonders –what’s not to love? I even loved scrambling up the rocky hills in the backyard of the desert community where we lived when I was a child. The view from the top was worth the climb; you could see for miles. My father used to say, “This is God’s Country,” when we drove through the mountains on our many car trips across the country. I get that. We feel closer to God in the mountains. The mountains bridge the gap between heaven and earth.

The Scriptures reinforce our stronger sense God’s presence in the mountains.The Psalmist sings “Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his holy mountain” (Psalm 99: 9).[1] The Old Testament reading recounts the story of Moses climbing Mount Nebo, where God spoke to him and where he died, after seeing the Promised Land that he would never enter (Deuteronomy 34:1-7). The transfiguration of Jesus occurred when he took three of his disciples (Peter, James and John) with him up to a mountain to pray. Some scholars think that the mountain was Mount Hermon, near where Jesus had been teaching in Caesarea Philippi.

Peter, James and John had the epitome of all mountain top experiences. As he was praying, Jesus was transformed into a bright shining light: “. . . the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightening. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus” (Luke 9: 29-30). If there was any doubt left in any of their minds that Jesus was the Son of God, it was put rest, when God confirmed what Peter had declared to Jesus in Capernaum “You are the Son of God” (Luke 4:41). God’s voice boomed from the cloud: “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” (Luke 9:35).

No wonder they didn’t want to leave! Peter offered to set up camp. He wanted to live there with Jesus, Moses and Elijah. That’s what happens when we encounter God on the mountain; we don’t want to leave. And yet leave we must. Jesus’ work on earth was not finished, and neither was the disciples’. A note in my study Bible warns: “Staying on top of a mountain prohibits us from ministering to others . . . We need times of retreat and renewal, but only so that we can return to minister to the world.” (Life Application Bible, NIV, p 1818).

When we are blessed with a mountaintop experience that connects us in an intimate way to God, we need to remember that we were blessed and refreshed for a reason—to return to the world to help minister to the sick, the discouraged, the needy, the lonely and the brokenhearted–to bring God’s love to a broken world.

So go to the mountain. But don’t forget that you are needed at home.

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan

[1] The scripture readings for the Transfiguration of Our Lord are Psalm 99; Deuteronomy 34:1-13; Hebrews 3: 1-6; Luke 9:28-36.


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