When I was 18 years old, God revealed Himself to me through the Word in a huge way. After wandering from the faith during high school and indulging in all kinds of sin, God broke my heart and changed me from the inside out. I rode that spiritual wave through the last semester of my senior year, all through the summer, and into my Freshman year at a Bible college where I was beginning my preparation for a future in ministry.
But somewhere along the way, that wave crashed. And so did I. Suddenly, it wasn’t so easy to devour ten chapters of the Bible each day. It wasn’t such a simple task to sit down and pray for fifteen minutes. New truths weren’t being revealed to me each time I sat at my desk to study the Bible. The same sins that held me prisoner in high school picked up right where they had left off.
What happened? I felt like I had fallen off the wagon, that God had abandoned me. And to be honest, there are days when I still feel like this. There are days that I long for that original mountaintop experience. But here’s the thing:
Most of our spiritual life is not spent on the mountaintop.
What does that mean? It means that for most of us, we don’t spend every day riding a spiritual high. Sure, there are times in life in which God reveals Himself to us in gigantic, neon sign ways and it’s awesome. We can’t wait to open our Bibles, we are always in communion with God, we are achieving victory over sin, and fellowship at church is refreshing! But I learned the hard way that we cannot, in fact, should not expect that most of our spiritual journey is going to be spent on top of the mountain!
I came falling from my mountain top at the end of my second semester at Bible college. And for a while, I tried climbing back up. I wanted that feeling again. That feeling of being close to God, that feeling of everything going right, that feeling of being an unstoppable force for Jesus’ glory. Have you been there before? Has there been a season of your life in which God showed Himself to you so clearly that for a while, it was easy to be a follower of Christ? Are you there right now?
If so, enjoy it while it lasts! It’s such a wonderful place to be. But Christian, don’t let your passion waver when you enter the valley. Don’t allow yourself to spend all your time in the valley searching for the mountain top experience like I did. Because, believe me, there will be valleys. More often than not, I’m afraid. But there’s a reason for that. And I’m convinced that:
if God let us live on the mountaintop long enough, we would eventually decide we didn’t need Him. That’s why there are valleys.
So, next time you find yourself in a spiritual valley, don’t waste the experience by trying to climb back up the mountain. Instead, allow the valley experience to shape you and mold you into a better representation of Christ. Let the book of James be an exhortation to you today.
James 1:2-4: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”
In other words, don’t waste your valleys. Embrace them! Understand that God is allowing you to face trials to make you better and to bring glory to His name. Count them as joy, as impossible as that may sound.
Let me illustrate. I guide whitewater rapids on the New River, and even though you wouldn’t expect it, the entire day isn’t one big adrenaline rush. There are class five rapids, sure, but in between those pulse pounding rapids are large stretches of flat water – water that is barely moving and that you can’t just drift through. You have to paddle through it and by the end of the pools, your shoulders are burning. But it’s part of the same river that contains the rapids. So if you want to raft the big whitewater, you have to paddle through the slow flat water.
Our spiritual lives are a lot like the New River. Sometimes, we are rushing through huge waves of spiritual excitement, our adrenaline pumping and our hearts pounding, and it’s amazing. But other times, we are merely plodding through the slack water of life and, frankly, it isn’t that much fun. But it’s part of the journey!
So Christian, if you are struggling through spiritual flat water today, if you find yourself in the valley, embrace it! Keep plugging along, keep reading the Word, keep praying, keep fighting sin, and let the trial of the valley draw you closer to Christ.
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