Our God is a mountain top God. It’s true. When Jesus speaks to His Bride in Song of Solomon Chapter 2, He comes to her “leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills.” Then He calls to her and says “Arise, my love, my beautiful one and come away.” In a perfect parallel, in Mark 3, when Jesus calls and appoints the twelve, He first goes to the mountain and THEN calls those He has chosen to come to Him there.
And then there is this:
“It shall come to pass in the latter days
that the mountain of the house of the Lord
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be lifted up above the hills;
and all the nations shall flow to it,
and many peoples shall come, and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.” – Isaiah 2:2-3 (ESV)
Guess what? Pretty much that same prophesy appears again in Micah 4. Repetition in the Bible cements a thing. If it’s in there once it is surely true. But, if it’s in there more than once, it is not to be missed or misunderstood. “Pay Attention,” God says “I am not kidding around here, I am spelling it out for you.”
God is calling His chosen to the mountains. That is a fact, a confirmed fact, and I think that every believer is seeking to join Him there. The “mountain top experience” is a pretty common idea in the church. The church is chasing after them. They are crying out “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord…”
BUT then, we examine the Transfiguration (Matthew 17). Jesus takes Peter, James, and John to the mountain top. They have a tremendous “mountain top experience”. I mean, a REALLY tremendous experience. Not only do they get to see Jesus get shiny (as my sweet friend says), to see Him transfigured before their eyes, but then they get to see Moses and Elijah. I mean, WOW!! And, as if that is not enough, then they get to see the cloud of God and hear His audible voice. I get a little lightheaded just imagining it all. This was a mountain top of mountain top experiences. Truly.
In the midst of all this, though, Peter gets the bright idea to try and build some tents up there so that Jesus and the crew of prophets of old can just stay up there forever. That’s when the voice of God says “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” The very first thing Jesus says to them after that is “Rise, and have no fear.” Then He takes them back DOWN the mountain.
Oh and wait, if we go back to Song of Solomon, we find that when the Bride finally does agree to join Jesus on the mountain (Song of Solomon 4:6), she doesn’t stay there. You know why? Because Jesus didn’t stay there. Just like after the Transfiguration, Jesus didn’t stay on the mountain, He came back down and healed a demon-possessed child. In Song of Solomon 6:2, we see Jesus has come down from the mountain to tend His spice beds, the many fragrant and unique collections of spices that are His church.
And, oh my goodness, in Mark 3, Jesus called the disciples to the mountain and anointed them to great and mighty things, but in verse 19 (NKJV) it says, “They went into a house.” The purpose of going up the mountain was so they would be ready to come back down.
The mountain is a place of equipping. It is a place of transformation. It is a place of new and heavenly perspective. It is a place where authority is bestowed upon us. But, it is not, I repeat… IS NOT, our dwelling place…Yet. Someday we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psalm 23:6, John 14:2-3, Revelation 21:1-4). However, right now we are called to ascend the mountain for the sole purpose of coming back down into the valleys, into the spice gardens, and into the houses.
I love the way this realization is presented in Song of Solomon chapter 7. The Bride speaks to Jesus and says:
Come, my beloved,
let us go out into the fields
and lodge in the villages;
let us go out early to the vineyards
and see whether the vines have budded,
whether the grape blossoms have opened
and the pomegranates are in bloom.
There I will give you my love. – Song of Solomon 7:11-12
She gets it! Jesus carries the mountain perspective, but He doesn’t dwell on the mountain top. No. He can be found among His church, ministering, nurturing, watering, and pruning. So, that is where she needs to be. That is where she can dwell in what she received on the mountain: His love, His perspective, His equipping. And, that is where she can show Him HER love. It is easy to show love to God on the mountain top where the hard things are far below, the realities of ministry and life are miles away. However, we are called to love Him in the valleys, in the midst of the struggles, in the spice gardens. But, He is right there with us. We show Him our love by agreeing to be side-by-side with Him as He does His work among the church, among the non-believers, among the hard situations of this world.
It’s not easy though. Let me tell you…
On April 1, I was presenting some of this at a women’s luncheon. Read this in a very authoritative voice:
“We are not called to dwell on the mountain tops, we are called to dwell in the love that we find there, so that we can come back down from the mountain and serve side-by-side with Jesus, ministering to his beloved.”
Yup. I knew it, I believed it, and I preached it.
Then… on April 26, not even a month later, I found myself unexpectedly standing on an actual mountain top. God is so good. It. was. breathtaking. It was powerful. It was amazing. And the Lord was so sweet to me there. He just brought confirmations and insights and just pure revelation of His beauty and majesty. And I cried. A lot. And then, I cried even more when I realized I was going to have to go back down the mountain. I mean vicious, ugly, not-gonna-do-it crying. I spoke truth over myself “I am called to dwell in Your love. It goes with me. I can’t dwell on the mountain top.” More ugly crying and internal battle followed. My family was finally able to drag me back down kicking and screaming, and I wallowed for quite a while. I’m being completely honest here. Just because we are blessed with the revelation doesn’t mean it’s easy to walk out.
Then on the weekend of May 5, I was privileged to attend a phenomenal conference hosted by my beautiful and anointed friend Dr. DeAunderia Bowens, and there the Father spoke powerfully. You know what He said? He said we are not called to dwell on the mountaintops, we are called to exercise the authority we get there to go into the houses (Mark 3). So I said to Him, “OK. Funk over. I get it. In your hands are the mountains, but also the depths of the earth, the valleys, the oceans, the spice gardens, the houses. Here I am! Let’s do this!”
It isn’t always going to be easy to leave the mountain top, but it is always necessary. Jesus says to us “Rise, and have no fear.” Being in the valleys is what we were created for. That sounds wrong, doesn’t it? Well, there is dwelling in the valleys, and there is dwelling in love, location: valley. That second one, that’s us. Beloved children who have been called to visit the mountain tops don’t dwell in valleys, they dwell in love. But, they do hang out in the valleys, because that’s where the next group God is calling to join Him on the mountain tops is currently hanging out. We are called to deliver their invitations, to say to them:
“Come and feast on the abundance of God’s house, I’ll show you the way. His name is Jesus!”