"Jesus led them up a high mountain..." - Matthew 17:1
Mountain-tops are awesome. Anyone who has ever climbed a mountain and seen a sun-rise or the earth open up beneath them and the thrill of feeling like you could get blown over the edge knows what I’m talking about. Yeah your quads ache, you're sweating buckets and your chest feels like it’s gonna cave in, but it’s still awesome. It may have something to do with the chemicals going through your body that reward you doing for exercise (that or the sheer fact that you’re glad it’s over!) but nothing tops the exhilaration of the view, the experience, the memory that you take down the mountain with you.
Faith provides some awesome mountain-top experiences too; like the Ignite Conference just gone by. Wow, what an experience it was! What a breathtaking view of the Holy Spirit and the kingdom of God that you didn’t even know existed, until you got up high enough to see it? How many people come down from experiences like that saying "they’ll never get it, they won’t believe me; you just had to be there.” And y’know what? That’s true; sometimes you do have to be there to understand what it feels like. Which is reassuring, because that means you can meet your friends, schoolmates, family and co-workers on their level, with no unrealistic expectations. Don’t worry, they’ll see the glow. They’re gonna ask what happened - eventually. But you don’t have to force it or make it happen. Just smile big, love the people around you more than ever, and answer questions simply when they come. Pressure’s off!
Now here’s the thing: mountains have valleys. Highs are always followed by lows. It is natural and almost 100% certain you will have a ‘downer after an upper’, like a spiritual hangover after being drunk on the Holy Spirit!. So here’s my tip; recognize the valley it when it comes. Check your mood swing. Don’t fall for negative head-talk like ‘Maybe that all wasn’t real’ or ‘Maybe God has left me?’ or any of that junk. That is the time – perhaps even now as you’re reading this – that you need to guard your mind, be kind to the people around you, get the sleep you’re massively overdue, and speak truth to yourself. What truth??
'That WAS real. God did just show up in your life. He did speak to you, whether you're feeling anything now or not. Jesus IS with you.’ Before he left earth for heaven he explicitly promised:
"I will be with you always, even until the very end of the age.” – Math 28:20
Jesus is just a bit more hidden now. He’s ‘hiding’ right there in your family, your friends, your messy room and undone household jobs, and right there in the Eucharist waiting to meet you week after week. Less visible, less exciting, sure: but no less real.
Never forget that experience on the mountain-top! Commit the view to memory – it was incredible, wasn’t it? But now is the time to take it with you into the valley and transform the world around you. That’s what mountain-tops are for.
Don’t worry, Jesus liked climbing mountains. I’m pretty sure he’ll be taking you up one again!