#116 "Pitching Tents"
October 9, 2007
"Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters [tents]--one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah."" (Mark 9: 5)
(Scripture Reference - Mark 9: 2-8)
We have all experienced times on the mountain top. We've all had times of intense exhilaration and happiness over the blessings of God. Maybe it was on our wedding day, when we looked into the eyes of our one true love and anticipated our future together. How about the feeling of holding your child in your arms for the very first time. What a rush! Maybe we got the job, or the check came in the mail. What about the day that the doctor said all the tests were negative? Seasons where all is right with the world.
Peter, James and John had one of these experiences with Jesus on the top of Mount Hermon. In their presence, Jesus was transfigured. This means that He was changed into another form, not merely a change in outward appearance. For a brief time Jesus' human body was transformed and the disciples saw Him as He will be when He returns visibly in power and glory to establish His kingdom on earth. And if that weren't enough, they were able to see Moses and Elijah with their very own eyes.
Impulsive Peter says, "This is awesome! Let's pitch some tents and stay here!" He wants to prolong this glorious experience. And aren't we just like Peter? During those times when everything is as it should be, when all the facets of our lives are in perfect alignment, when the pieces all fit....we want to make our home there. We want to pitch a tent and never leave the mountain top, where we know we've heard the voice of God and our prayers have been answered and we take up residence on the sunny side of the street.
Fortunately for us, tent pegs are easily removed from the ground. It's fortunate because we were never destined to stay in those types of moments. We need those times of exhilaration. We need those times of inspiration and divine blessing. We need to see the glory of God manifest itself in various circumstances in our lives. But we were not destined to stay there. Our destiny and our purpose is for the Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays of life. Where we get up and go to work. Come home and make dinner. Do some laundry. Put the kids to bed. Get up and do it all again. Oswald Chambers puts it this way, "We are not made for the mountains, for sunrises, or for the beautiful attractions in life--those are simply intended to be moments of inspiration. We are made for the valley and the ordinary things of life, and that is where we have to prove our stamina and strength." As awesome as this event was for Peter, James and John, when it was over, they were led by Christ to the reality of living, to a demon possessed boy, and a world living in the absence of Jesus. We must come down from our mountains to the drudgery, to menial tasks, and to the moments which the mountain top experience prepared us to face. Most of life is lived right there.
Might I also add a word of caution right here? I would dare to say that it is harder to live close to Christ on the mountain top than in the valley. Say what? You heard me. It's harder to live close to Christ on the mountain top than in the valley. I'm sure you'd agree that when your needs are huge and tears are streaming down your face, you run to Jesus. You pray, you give, you obey....thinking that if you follow the rules, your prayer will be answered. Nothing drives us to Christ like a crisis. We make promises. We bargain. We seek Him with all of our hearts. But what about when times get good? We must be careful not to allow good times to lead us into sloppy living.
This was obviously a problem inherent in all men. God addressed this issue way back in Deuteronomy 8: 10-18 when He said, "When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land He has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe His commands, His laws and His decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you. You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms His covenant, which He swore to your forefathers, as it is today."
Reading between the lines, God knows we have a penchant for forgetting Him in the good times. All of a sudden we think we can get away with sloppy living. We don't obey Him or walk as closely with Him. He says that we have a tendency toward pride and toward thinking that we accomplished everything that is good in our lives, on our own. We may even praise God for our blessings, but mistakenly believe that we were blessed because we obeyed, or because we prayed enough or walked blamelessly enough. Don't ever forget that you are on the mountain of blessing because He gave, He brought you out, He led, He supplied, He enabled. We must live close to Christ on the mountain and close to Christ in the valley.
Today, if you are on the Mount Hermon of your experience, enjoy it, but remember that it is rare. Don't pound your tent pegs in too firmly. You will be moving. Soak in the inspiration, fill yourself with the fresh air of God's presence and be inspired and strengthened by Him. Remember that it was He who led you there. Every blessing you enjoy has come from His gracious hand. Hide this moment in your heart as a reserve to draw on when Jesus says, "It's time to go down from here."
And if you're in that valley today, feeling like heaven has shut it's doors or that life is just a drudge, remember that He is with you. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." (Psalm 23: 4 KJV) You will one day hear Jesus say, "It's time to go up." Whether you are ascending to the top of the mountain today or descending into the demon possessed valley, remember that it is He who always leads the way.
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