From This Valley

While I have not been very committed to it, at various points throughout the year, I have picked up Oswald Chamber's My Utmost for His Highest to read the daily selection. Today's was about what Chambers called the Valley of Humiliation. The text is from Matthew 17, when Jesus and the three ascend to the Mount of Transfiguration. Seeing Jesus transformed, Peter says, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."

A friend of mine recently completed a YWAM dts. He had wrestled for a while with the decision to go, and one of the reasons that he gave me was that he did not want to have the "coming down the mountain" experience. Having gone through that multiple times, I was very sympathetic to his concerns. It is a sad but all-too-frequently true story that people go away to dts or a similar faith-oriented program and come back fired up, only to find that their passion fades quickly before all of the real life minutiae.

And yet, in spite of my sympathy, I would have to answer such concerns with two thoughts.

First, if you focus on what you might lose, you will never receive all that you could gain. Jesus brought three of his disciples with him to witness the transfiguration, and they were instructed not to speak of it until a later time. They had a personal revelation of God which the other nine disciples did not experience. Jesus had twelve disciples, and of those twelve, all had productive ministries (save Judas, of course), but those three emerged as leaders: Peter, James, and John. It is noteworthy that Paul had a direct revelation on the road to Damascus as well.

What is the purpose of the mountaintop experience? The glory is the taste before the test. Which brings me to my second thought.

Chambers says that we cannot live in the glory on the mountaintop; it is only when we descend the mountain and enter gritty reality that we can live out the glory. In other words, what happens at the place of transfiguration is meaningless without what comes after. Peter was ready to camp out and build tents. He lost his vision for anything except what was right there in front of him because it was so achingly good. But the time is not yet for him to abide in that place, as evidenced by the passage that follows: Jesus healing an epileptic and chastising the disciples for their unbelief. Somehow, what they learned had not hit home yet, and it wouldn't until they had lived it out amongst the multitude.

While I'm not necessarily advocating going to a YWAM dts this very second (or possibly ever, for some people), I would say that fear of loss or failure should never prevent us from "entering the glory." Though we will certainly encounter difficulties thereafter as we realize the responsibilities that accompany knowledge, we are also given the strength to carry through to the end - or to the next mountaintop.

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