Mountains and Valleys

Contributing Writer
Pastor Scott Hannon
St. John Lutheran Church Amherst, NY

We all have mountaintop moments in life – times when we feel like we’re on top of the world. There are times when life is good, blessed and calm.

There are times when everything seems clear. There are times of peace and triumph and joy.

The birth of my daughter, Delaney, was one of those times for me. It wasn’t easy getting there. Like all mountaintop experiences, it was not easy getting there. There were nine months of worry, exhaustion, and fear. There were midnight runs to the grocery store and frequent bouts of sickness. But when we arrived – when Delaney arrived – it was a profound moment of peace, joy, life and love.

Unfortunately, that’s about all it was… a moment. And while we went home with this awesome gift of new life, the peace and joy of that day has since then been replaced with exhaustion and burnout. There has been renewed worry, fear and doubt, not to mention stress and anxiety unlike any we have ever had before.

But that’s kind of how life goes… mountains and valleys. Mountaintop moments of pure peace and joy, surrounded by days/weeks/months of journeying up and down to get there.

In our gospel lesson for last Sunday a few of the disciples have a mountaintop moment. Peter, James and John are with Jesus on a peak when he is transfigured before them. His clothes shine – his face glows – Moses and Elijah show up. Things are radiant and bright and good. And Peter loves it… he wants to make it last. So, he says to Jesus, “This is great! We should stay here awhile. Let’s live in this moment. Set up some tents…”

Unfortunately for Peter, God interrupts. And before they can set up camp they’re on their way back down the mountain. Back down to everyday life with all of its complexities and emotions and drama and heartbreak.

It would be awesome if life could just be one mountaintop moment after the next or if we could just stay on the peak for 100 years at a time. But that’s not the case. In fact, mountains are only mountains because of the valleys. And there’s no way for us to have a mountaintop moments without journeying up and down the hill.

But there is good news. The good news is that God didn’t just send the disciples back into the valley. Rather, Jesus lifts the disciples up, instructs them not to be afraid, and then leads them down.

So often we think of our faith life in terms of meeting God on the mountain. We remember and hold onto those precious mountaintop moments when life is blessed and joyful. But the true joy of following Jesus is in realizing that Jesus walks with us through all our moments of life. Jesus is with us at the peak and Jesus walks with us through the valley.

And so, if you find yourself caught up in the grind, working too hard, fighting too hard, or struggling too much rejoice in the presence of Jesus with you NOW. God is not waiting for you at the peak. Rather, Jesus is at your side in the valley with the same words he offered his disciples long ago, “Get up. Be not afraid. It’s time to walk through the valley. … And behold, I am with you to the end of the age.”

In the Way,
SDH

For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott’s past columns, please visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.