It seems like a distant memory now, even though it was less than two weeks ago. On top of a mountain with my family, we were doing something Amy and I never dreamed of doing when we were our children’s ages: snowmobiling. We were in Breckenridge, Colorado and along with a small group of other vacationers we were snowmobiling along the backside of the Rocky Mountains. The temperature hovered in the teens but the sunshine was full and we were all having the time of our lives; each one of us commandeering our own snowmobile. These are powerful machines that are something like riding a four-wheeler and a jet ski combined. By the end of the afternoon my face was purple with cold, my beard was layered in frost and my grin was frozen in place.
One of the great things to be enjoyed while snowmobiling is seeing parts of the mountains not accessible to skiers. There were winding trails and beatific vistas. The best view occurred near the top of one mountain. Due to the risk of avalanches we could not go to the very top, but we went as high as possible – 12,500 feet. We were above the tree line and in a simple way felt as though we were on top of the world. Soon, too soon, our time was up and it was time to not only take our snowmobiles back down the mountain, but take ourselves back home.
Life has its highs and lows; this we know all too well. For a time in my life I worked feverishly to create and then recreate high points, thinking that I could string together mountaintop moments and that would be my life. Yet not a one of us lives on top of the mountain. Not even Jesus, who was transfigured on top of a mountain, complete with holy visions and divine voices. Even Jesus had to come on down and face the crowds, faces the drudgery, face the questions. (Matthew 17:1-9)
The glory of God, which can so easily be felt deep within our hearts when we are on mountaintops with those whom we love most, is still the glory that goes with us down the mountain, even into the valley. The shine of the transfigured Jesus on top of the mountain shines on in us and through us while we are dwelling and living along the plains. It is not enough that we be dazzled by the glow of Jesus while at the highpoints of our lives. Rather we have been called; we have been summoned as God’s children to be the ones transfigured and “aglow.” It all comes not because we wish to idolize or mourn the past or even glorify in the present, but because there is a holy movement afoot that is not so much about stringing together mountaintop moments, but living also in the plains where God too is at work.
How do you see the glory of God at the foot the mountain, when the crowds press in and the questions are asked?