Last week, in MOUTAIN TOP EXPERIENCES, Part 4, we discovered that God can and will get us through our troubled times, but it won’t always happen in the way we think it will. Nonetheless, if we put our hope in Him, it will be well worth the trip!
But wait. Why do we have to go through those valleys, anyway? Wouldn’t my walk with God be just as rich, if not richer, if I never had to go through the problems? If I could live on the mountain top?
Two summers ago my family and I had the privilege of visiting Zermatt in Switzerland, home of the world-famous Matterhorn. We were only there for three days, and with none of us being experienced mountain climbers, there was no way we would ever be able to actually climb this famous peak. Or any of the other high peaks around us either, for that matter! Instead we caught a ride on Europe’s highest cable car to its highest viewing station, at the peak of the Little Matterhorn. From here we had a glorious view of the Swiss, Italian and French Alps, and especially of the world-famous Matterhorn.
The cable car drops passengers off in a tunnel that has been drilled through the Little Matterhorn, and tourists are invited to walk through this tunnel to a point about mid-way, where there is an elevator that takes you to a spot near the peak. From here there is a short flight of stairs to a viewing platform built on the actual summit of the mountain.
Imagine our surprise, as we climbed up to that windy viewing platform, to find a cross mounted at the Little Matterhorn’s extreme peak!
Friends, I believe that this cross, at the peak of the Little Matterhorn in Switzerland, provides the answer to our questions today.
You see, there would never be a “Mountain Top” experience in our lives if it hadn’t been for Jesus. If He had never come and died on that cruel cross for our sins, if He had never paved the way for our Salvation, there wouldn’t be any hope at all of a better tomorrow.
Thinking a bit farther, this cross also reminds us that the roads we travel while we are in the valleys of our lives are there because there is sin in the world. They are caused by the poor, sinful choices that are made by ourselves and by others. They aren’t God’s will. They aren’t God’s engineering. They are a result of sin.
When Jesus came to this world, He brought with Him the answer to sin. Those who believe in Him have redemption, the forgiveness of sin: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16); and “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph 1:7-8 NKJV)
When we’ve given our hearts to Jesus, we have all of God’s power at our disposal: “that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power … And He put all things under His feet …” (Eph 1:18-20, 23a NKJV)
Now the power spoken of by Paul is the powerful text isn’t necessarily power that will keep us OUT OF the valleys. Rather, it is the power of God to get us THROUGH them. In some cases, this power will resolve the valleys. In others, it will help us have the faith we need to come through them. Friends, it is in these valleys of our lives that we can grow to know God more, that we can fall deeper and deeper in love with Jesus, that our faith can blossom.
The cross at the top of the Little Matterhorn also reminds us that while we are in the valleys of our lives, we can learn some valuable lessons, lessons that will perhaps help us to avoid future valleys caused by our own poor choices. You see, God has much a richer life for each of us, but in order for us to attain it, we have to be stripped of our sinful nature.
The Bible refers to this as “dross”, the byproduct of the refining of silver: “Take away the dross from silver, And it will go to the silversmith for jewelry.” (Prov 25:4 NKJV). There is only one way to remove the dross from silver, and that is through the refiner’s fire.
Another illustration common in the Bible is that of pottery. God is the master potter’s hand, and He is trying to shape us into the vessels we were created to be. But when a vessel is “marred”, God has to mould it and make it, and this remoulding and remaking requires crushing and pinching and spinning and cutting: “And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.” (Jer 18:4 NKJV)
This doesn’t sound like fun, folks! But it is necessary. I would like to suggest that although the valleys of our lives aren’t God’s will, He uses these times to mould and make us into something beautiful. He uses the “refiner’s fire” of the troubles we find ourselves in to teach us valuable lessons, to bring us face to face with our sins and to strip us of them.
Because we will never truly have a real “Mountain Top” experience without this important process! The way to true happiness – not the happiness defined by this world, but TRUE happiness – lies in being right with Jesus Christ. It lies in being free of the “dross” of sin so that we can be free to live the way He would have us to live. It lies in having a rock-hard faith in the One who gave His all for us.
The secret to a true “Mountain Top” is found at the top of the Little Matterhorn. It lies in the Cross!
Friends, let’s stop wishing away our valleys. Instead, let’s start looking to Jesus within them, for it is in the valleys that He shines the brightest. When we do, we will receive the help we need to get through them, and in the process, we will build faith and be stripped of our sin. And only then can we experience a TRUE Mountain Top experience!
Join us next week for MOUNTAIN TOP EXPERIENCES, Part 6: The Mount Whitney Disappointment.
(To access the entire “Mountain-Top Experiences” devotional series, please click here.)