You know that “just left church camp, heart on fire for Jesus” feeling?
You spend a week in the Colorado mountains at summer camp and come back changed.
You attend a weekend church retreat and new life courses through your veins.
You participate in your first mission trip and come back ready to tackle all of life’s challenges.
Those are beautiful moments we often call mountaintop experiences. We all need times like these to reenergize our souls and reset our focus on Christ. They are of great value to our emotional health and spiritual growth.
I was talking with a friend recently about the spiritual mountaintop times—how these are the times when we appear to be at our best. This led me to wonder if that’s the case in the rest of our lives. Do we just flounder through the valleys and the ordinary days, simply waiting for the next mountaintop moment?
Many of us tend to live like that, maybe subconsciously. We attend a special event and come back to our usual lives, shouting God’s goodness with a spring in our step and an extra spark in our eyes—that is, until the emotional high fades and we find ourselves in the slump of routines and homework and thinking about what’s for dinner. We get tired and drained, and soon we’re longing for that “camp feeling” again, longing to radiate joy and feel God’s nearness.
What if you found the same joy in your relationship with Jesus while vacuuming your living room as you did kneeling in front of a cross at camp? Do you believe it’s possible?
And if it is, what’s the secret that can make a world of difference? Perseverance. Not from our own striving and willpower, but a perseverance that relies on God’s strength.
More Than a Pep Talk
Our human nature is quick to experience an amnesia of sorts—forgetting who we are in and because of Jesus. We have an enemy that “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). He wants to do whatever it takes to get our minds off Christ. This often means distracting us from the truth or making us think that we can only experience God’s presence clearly on the mountaintop. But God says otherwise.
The same God who met you on that mountain is the same God who meets you today.
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. (Ps. 139:7–10)
God doesn’t need a mountaintop moment to speak to you. As a believer, His Holy Spirit isn’t in a certain place, waiting to be found by you; He lives inside of you (1 Cor. 3:16, Rom. 8:11). While we recognize the importance of retreats and times of renewal, we cannot discount the ordinary moments—the quiet mornings when you open your Bible, your third attempt at passing the exam, or the many hours spent practicing your scales on the piano.
Unlike the mountaintop moments, it’s harder to remember the gospel hope and joy we have in Christ when we’d rather complain about the day’s drudgery or when we’re in the midst of challenges. But those are precisely the times we were made to persevere. Merriam-Webster defines perseverance as the “continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition.”
The entire chapter of Hebrews 12 is a call to persevere because the writer knows that until the day Christ comes back, we will face opposition. If we’re going to be the people God made us to be, to follow in His image, to not get beaten down by the trials of this world or fall into complacency, we need the perseverance that comes from Jesus.
Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. (Heb. 12:12–13)
This passage is like a coach reenergizing the struggling team, helping them get their head in the game. We need the encouragement from God’s Word to reset our minds.
When you’re facing heartbreak, trauma, or insecurity, remember that God is always with you, holding your right hand (Ps. 73:23).
When you’re not sure where to go and you’ve lost your joy, remember that He will show you the path of life, and in His presence you’ll find fullness of joy (Ps. 16:11).
When you’re weary from the tasks of your day and the noise that takes over your thoughts, lay it all out with open hands before God. He will give you rest (Matt. 11:28).
Whatever it looks like to lift your drooping hands and take hold of your day with a new grip, do that. Write down Scripture. Read these verses multiple times every day. Sing your heart out in worship. Most importantly, seek Jesus in every moment. He will equip you to persevere as you look to Him. Remember Jesus and how He lived His life “so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted” (Heb. 12:3).
Great beauty exists in those moments around a campfire with your youth group. You go to church camp with fifty strangers and come back with fifty of your closest friends. You hear a message at a conference that makes your heart beat faster and you know God is calling you to something new. We call them “mountaintop” experiences because from the top of a mountain, we have a new perspective. We can more clearly see what matters most. The Lord does wonders through special mountaintop experiences like these.
But the reality is that they are not everyday occurrences. They’re rare for a reason. Otherwise they wouldn’t be special opportunities for rejuvenation.
The “in-between times” are more than a place-holder—they make up most of our life. They hold something sacred for us, because God is just as present, though He may be harder to see. He came to give us abundant life, and a lot of good can be found in the challenges or in the moments we least expect.
I went for a run today. I was exhausted, struggling along with bad physical form, just trying to make it up the hill. Hebrews 12:12–13 came to mind as I knew I needed to (quite literally) “lift my drooping hands,” “strengthen my weak knees, and make straight paths for my feet.” As I stood up straight, pumped my arms, and refocused my steps, I pictured us doing that in our walk with Jesus.
No matter what you face today, take hold with a new grip. Persevere through the valley. Realign your heart with God’s truth. Let Him fill you with His strength as you reset your focus on Him.