In three of the four Gospels in the New Testament, there's a story about Jesus and his disciples called “The Transfiguration.” Jesus and three of his disciples, the “inner circle” of Peter, James and John, go to a mountaintop and there Jesus was “transfigured” (Mark 9:2) before them. His appearance was changed and “his clothes became dazzling white” (Mark 9:3). Elijah and Moses appear and talk with Jesus.
The disciples are so overwhelmed they are left speechless - except for Peter, of course. A cloud appears and envelops them, and God speaks to them: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” (Mark 9:7).
Suddenly, the cloud is gone and the disciples are left alone with Jesus. Everything is back to normal, including Jesus’ appearance. It was an incredible event and truly had to be a “mountaintop experience” for the disciples.
But the next day they come down into the valley and encounter a father with a son in need. The boy is possessed by an evil spirit the other disciples could not cast out. After a lot of discussion, Jesus heals the boy and turns the moment into a lesson on faith and prayer.
The two stories have always intrigued me because they come back-to-back.
One day they are having a “mountaintop experience” and the next day they run into a family dealing with pain and suffering. Life can be like that. We can go to church on Sunday and have a spiritual “mountaintop experience” where we feel closer to the Lord. But the next day, we may run into the heartaches and difficulties that we all face in life.
The encouraging truth is that we find Jesus in both places. He is with us in the highs and the lows. On the mountaintop, his spirit is with our spirit encouraging us. Down in the valley, he's right there with us as we face the hardships of life. We prefer the mountain top, but there will always be valleys and we can count on the truth that he will be with us in both places.
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” - Matthew 28:20
Written by Kevin McSpadden, chaplain for Baptist Retirement Community in San Angelo, Texas.