Aug 06, 2018
Myth of the Mountaintop
Darrick Smith writes about the myth of living a life full of “mountaintop” experiences and why living for Christ is better.
The Mountaintop. It’s the experience we all crave. The experience that we hear about quite often. We follow others on social media who rave about it. We dream of it. We hope for it daily. It’s the experience that drives our every decision. We wake up longing for it. It’s that spiritual high experience. That experience where everything is going the way we want it to go. It’s the “good life” experience. You know, when ministry is thriving. Baptism numbers are high. Disciples are being made. Students are bought-in. Goals are quickly met. Your devotional time is fruitful. Family-life is successful. You’re comfortable and life is great. It’s absent from turmoil, hardships, pain and suffering. It’s full of happiness, laughter, and good memories. Everything seems to be going really well.
This is the mountaintop experience! It’s what we live for and fight to get. It’s every Christian’s dream, right?
What if the mountaintop experience is delusional? Fake? Unobtainable? Falsified? Fabricated? Created in our minds and propagated by our culture, leaving us intoxicated with a fantasy-filled life without any sufferings or hardships? Leaving us hopeless. Leaving us joyless. Leaving us disoriented with the truth and leading us to a life of idolatry and despair. Could this be the thing you’re daily fighting for?
Your dreams can be costly…
I grew up fairly poor in a small rural town in North Carolina. My mother was a single-parent who worked long hours to provide for me and my younger brother. At a really young age I decided that this would not be the narrative of my life. I started working at sixteen in hopes to save some money. I began dreaming about wealth and success at an early age. I thought I could become a doctor with a lovely family, a nice house, nice cars, and exotic vacations. I wanted a life absent from pain and difficulties. A comfortable life filled with mountaintop experiences.
I did everything I could to achieve that dream. I went to college and graduate school. I worked hard and saved money. I even started my own LLC after college. I got married and had children. The list goes on.
Over the years of my life, I’ve met with some successes and many failures and disappointments. But I’ve quickly come to realize that what has scared me in all those moments were the things that were brewing behind the success, failures, and disappointments — things that were hidden deep down in the crevices of my heart.
Pride. Greed. Covetousness. Praise. Approval of man. Selfish Ambition.
It was these sinful desires that fueled my dreams and led me to trying to build a life off those things.
When I met with failure. Shame was around the corner. When I didn’t achieve a goal, embarrassment arose. When pain and suffering filled my life, despair flooded my heart. The truth is, the foundation of our lives will be tested and it will reveal what is at the core of our hearts. The trials of various kinds that I met revealed to me that I had been trying to build my life on the wrong things. I fought so hard to create a mountaintop experience-filled life.
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it,” (Matthew 7:24-27, ESV).
Jesus never had a mountaintop experience. In fact, he had the complete opposite. He was driven into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan for forty days. Talk about your best life now! Jesus didn’t have a lavished house, in fact he had nowhere to lay his head (Matt. 8:20). He didn’t come driving a new Tesla, but a donkey (Mark 11:7). His goal wasn’t to live for those mountaintop experiences. His goal was to please his Father by seeking and saving the lost (Luke 91:10). The foundation of his life was built upon pleasing his Father. His pursuit and drive wasn’t the things of this world but the creator of this world.
If Jesus even came close to a mountaintop experience, it would have been the cross. The cross was the intersection where purpose and obedience collided. Jesus humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Phil. 2:8). His “mountaintop” experience had nothing to do with everything going the way he wanted it, but his obedience to the Father’s plan for his life.
God hasn’t called us to the mountaintop; he’s called us to Golgotha’s Hill. It is to Golgotha’s Hill that we carry our cross and die. We die to ourselves and our selfish ambitions. It’s a place of humility… a place where if we experience great joy.
What if your ministry never grows? What if you never accomplish your goals? What if you never plant that church? What if your ministry is never characterized as fruitful? What if your ministry fails? What if you fail?
What if the rest of your life is in the valley of the shadow of death, rather than a mountaintop experience? Is Jesus enough? Is his death, burial, and resurrection enough for you to follow him as he leads you? Is his presence with you good enough?
For further meditation, read Psalm 23 (ESV):
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.