“When we were at Mount Sinai, the Lord our God said to us,
‘You have stayed at this mountain long enough.
It is time to break camp and move on. (Deuteronomy 1:6-7)
Read: Numbers 36:1-Deuteronomy 1:46, Luke 5:29-6:11, Psalm 66:1-20, Proverbs 11:24-26
Relate: There are few regular events in my life growing up that can even begin to compare with Youth Convention. The worship services, the concerts, hotel floor vs floor water gun battles, a few thousand teenagers let loose in downtown Syracuse and at Carousel Mall with inadequate adult supervision, spending all my money on music the very first day and then leeching off Will for food money the rest of the weekend, oh the memories. Most of all, what made Convention such an amazing time was the inevitable, and immensely powerful encounter with God. The New York youth conventions on Easter weekend were always, without fail life changing mountaintop experiences.
It is Youth Convention that comes to mind now because it was always Thursday through Saturday Easter weekend and so, as Easter draws near, my nostalgic yearnings pull me in that direction. There were actually two other even higher mountaintop experiences I would climb every year. The first and greatest was the winter PK/MK retreat (pastor/missionary kids) and in the summer was youth camp. Although the PK retreat gives me my fondest memories, summer camp holds the distinction of providing me with the first and only romantic kiss in my life. But that is neither here nor there.
The only part of all these events that I did not love was the leaving. I loved meeting up with friends from all over NY state. I loved the games, fine arts, the services (usually), and even the camp food (surprisingly). I loved the memories being made, and I loved the way it was shaping my life. I did not love having to come down off those mountains to re-enter the real world.
For as long as the Israelites were doing meandering laps around Mount Sinai, they didn’t have to worry about clothes. Their shoes never wore out no matter how many miles they logged. They didn’t have to worry about food. Each and every day manna would pepper the ground. Beyond that, a pillar of cloud and fire would mark the very tangible proof of God’s presence in their lives. They had everything they could want and far more than they deserved. But now it was time to leave it. Now it was time to re-enter the real world.
React: What are our mountaintop experiences now? What are the services and moments that just lift me up to cloud nine? Don’t you wish you could just stay there forever? I know I sure do. Mountaintop experiences are divine blessings. They are great for perspective, and gaining vision. You can see the whole world from up there. But do you know what I have learned from climbing a few real mountains? Nothing grows up there. Mountaintops are made for encounters, but valleys are made for life. Those moments with God are always, without fail, worth the climb, but it is time now to re-enter the real world.
First and foremost I want to thank You for the mountaintop experiences in my life. I want to thank You for the Mount Sinai type encounters that were so vital in shaping my life and in making me Your servant today. But help me to not live on past mountains. Sometimes, even when time and circumstances have moved me far from that experience, a part of me hasn’t left. As a result I am not fully alive in the valley to which You have called me. Help me to move on. Help me to break camp. Although it might sometimes be hard to recognize, the God of my mountaintops is also Lord in my valleys.