Have you ever hiked to the top of a mountain, skied black diamond slopes, or climbed to the top of a tree? If so, you know it takes more effort to get to the top. You also know the view from the “high places” is the reward. You see more. You get a panoramic view that far exceeds the view from the low places.
So why doesn’t everyone choose the high places? The high places take more effort. You have to get out of your comfort zone. You have to be willing to pay the cost. Several years ago some friends and I hiked Mount Le Conte in Sevier County in the state of Tennessee. This mountain summit climbs 6,575 feet above sea level. We stayed on the top overnight which meant we had backpacks! This was a group of mothers who had multiple small children at home. Some were better fit than others, but we all made it. Everyone agreed it was worth it as we sat on a ledge at the top overlooking the valleys and mountains below, and seeing all we had ascended. From our high point we sat exhausted, but satisfied, and felt the cool, wet clouds blowing in our faces. I can still feel what it felt like these years later. Imagine the next morning when I rose to observe the sunrise from my high spot not so exhausted. What a sight to behold! What a different view from the top of that mountain! It was one of the most majestic sunrises I had ever observed. My heart swelled with thankfulness to God for allowing me to experience the “high places.” So much so I turned to the few who had joined me and proclaimed, “My Father did all of this!” I know Him! It cost us something to get to the top, but it was worth it.
I love snow skiing! Anyone who snow skies knows you can definitely go to the “high places.” The black diamond slopes are at the top which are reserved for the expert, or more advanced skier. I took my beginner lesson and headed for the top! I am not recommending you do that. Believe me it “cost” more that way. Again, I was overwhelmed and humbled by the beauty of snow covered mountains, with glistening diamonds in the sunlight, back dropped by blue sky, and scattered white puffs of clouds. My rapturous moment soon came to a halt with the realization I had to come down those steep elevations on skis! It was quite humbling as I slid down the mountain on my butt as a child slides down the slide at a park. I did get to the bottom safely by God’s grace. Even though it cost me my pride and a few bruises, it was worth it to me to see the view from the top.
I have been known to shimmy up to the tops of trees for the view also. The higher you go the flimsier the branches become, so you tend to get blown around by the wind, and you learn to sway with the branches, and hang on! Deer hunters who put their climbing stands high in trees know what that feels like as well. Ask me how I know. Again, you sure enjoy a great panoramic view of the woods and all the wildlife within.
As a Christian, I believe we are always being given an invitation by Jesus to come to the “high places.” Ultimately, I find Him at the “high places.” In Matthew 17 Jesus extended an invitation to Peter, James, and John and took them high on a mountain by themselves. On the top of this mountain He was transfigured before them, and Elijah and Moses appeared, and were talking with Him. Peter stated to Jesus, “Lord it is good for us to be here.” It will be good for us to be there also. The “high places” are a place of revelation where Jesus reveals Himself to those of us that are willing to make the ascent as we see here. Even though Peter was anxious to build something, God Himself interrupted Peter still speaking and told him to listen to His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased. May we learn to be still and listen. May we learn the lesson intended on the mountain of transfiguration and be transfigured into His glory.
Jesus made a habit of going to the mountains to pray. (Matthew 14:13, 23, Mark 3:13, 6:31-32, Luke 6:12, 9:28, John 6:3, 15.) Let’s follow Jesus through these scriptures. In Matthew we read Jesus had just heard of John the Baptist being beheaded. It tells us in verse 13 Jesus went to a secluded place by Himself. He needed to go to His Father alone with His pain and sorrow. The Bible tells us He was a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief. Have you just gotten devastating news? Follow His example and get alone with the Father. He is the God of all comfort. (I Corinthians 1:1-3) We also see after ministering to the crowds, He sent His disciples and the crowds away and went upon the mountain by Himself to pray. It wasn’t easy to get to the “high place” in God’s presence. He had to send the ever draining needs of the crowds away, as well as those close to Him. Who do you need to send away to get to the “high place” where Jesus can refill you and give you direction for your life? Follow His example.
In Mark 6:31, 32 the disciples are returning to Jesus after teaching and ministering. We see Jesus advise his disciples to come away by themselves to a secluded place and rest awhile. We must discipline ourselves for seclusion and rest. In seclusion, with God’s presence and His Word, we find strength, refreshment, and direction for the next step to take in our lives. We have to silence all other voices but His in order to live an obedient life. This takes intentional effort.
In Mark 3:13 and Luke 6:12 we read Jesus goes to the mountain to pray and spends the whole night in prayer to God. When day came, He called his disciples to Him and chose the twelve, whom He also named apostles. Jesus never did His own will but the will of His Father. There was an important decision to make and He needed to know the will of God. We can never be obedient until we hear from God what to do. Let us learn to persevere in prayer, all night if necessary, till we know the will of God for our major decisions. We also see in these verses He called the disciples up to the mountain and named the disciples. Perhaps He is calling you to the “high place” so He can reveal His will for your calling. Let us persevere and make the sacrifices to get to His presence.
In John 6:15 we read that the crowds were intending to come and take Jesus by force to make Him king. He withdrew to the mountain by Himself alone. In order to stay in the will of God, we have to be in constant communion with Him. I, like Jesus, have to climb to the “high places” to be alone with God. Your “high places” doesn’t have to be literal. It can be a closet, bathroom, park bench, a barn, or a lonely stretch of beach. The important thing is seclusion from all voices but His. It will take great effort, discipline, and getting out of your comfort zone. Not many people choose the “high places.’ They choose convenience and comfort. We tend to go with the flow. Going with the flow won’t take you higher. Don’t be content in the lowland experiences of life. I leave you with this exhortation from Psalm 18:33 “He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and sets me upon my “high places.” Hope to see you at the top!!