Like many, I think the best part of fall is watching the trees change color, and in my opinion, there is no better place than Colorado. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the great flat state of Texas that I think Colorado is stunning. While we were visiting recently, my family and I decided to do the train ride to the top of Pike’s Peak. I knew we would be able to see all the beautiful trees showing off the fall colors up close on the way up the mountain.
My face lit up with joy as I watched the gold leaves of the Aspen dance in the wind and glitter as the sunshine hit them. There were rows and rows of evergreens that were hundreds of years old but as we got closer to the top, we noticed there were fewer trees. The conductor explained that this is called a timber line or tree line where the trees stop growing because of the harsh conditions of the altitude. The top of the mountain is not meant to sustain life for long periods of time, so there isn’t much up there.
As we got out of the train, the cold wind immediately hit our faces. It was much colder than I anticipated and my kids begged to go inside the visitor center for hot chocolate. But I stood outside and looked at the majestic beauty of nature all around me. It brought me to tears. I took a few pictures to remember the moment and then rushed inside the visitor center myself because the altitude change was starting to hit me.
The train ride up the mountain took one hour but we only stood on top of Pikes Peak for twenty minutes. Mountain tops are magical and wonderful, you truly feel like you’re on top of the world for a brief moment. But it is meant for a brief visitation; we’re not meant to live on the mountaintop.
In Matthew 17, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John to a mountaintop where Elijah and Moses appear. In this moment Jesus reveals a glimpse of His glory. It was surely an awe-inspiring moment! “Peter exclaimed, ‘Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters as memorials — one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah'” (Matthew 17:4 NLT).
Leave it to Peter to speak honestly from the heart like a child. It was as if Peter was saying, “Jesus, this is the happiest and most magical place on earth! Please, can we stay here on the mountaintop?”
But God Himself interrupts Peter with a voice from the cloud that is so magnificent that they all fall on their faces!
We crave the mountaintop experiences but we cannot create our homes there. Life is not lived in the greatest moments or the most exciting parts of life, they are simply a part of our life.
There is a famous speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr where he states these words: “He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”
The mountain top he refers to is what we see in Scripture over and over as the meeting place where people met with God, from Abraham to Moses to Elijah to Jesus. This was a place where God would speak to His people to propel their faith for their future.
We all need mountaintop moments where we experience the miraculous provision, power, and presence of God because we live in hard and challenging realities most days. Dr. King’s mountaintop experience fueled the fire deep within his soul to keep fighting for justice and equality for all. It gave him faith in the midst of adversity and struggle, which is why he could say, “I am not worried. I am not fearing any man.”
Like Peter, we often try to pray away the struggles and the suffering; we long to live on the mountaintop. It’s easy to see God on there. There is good all around for us — majestic 360 views — and it’s easy to glorify God when surrounded by beauty. But down below, where we actually walk out life day by day, it is a little harder to see God.
What if the purpose of the mountaintop moment was not to simply post something pretty on social media, but to teach us to look beyond the now and to stir up our faith in Him for the future? What if, like Dr. King, we are supposed to draw strength from our mountaintop moment to keep going in the valleys?
Take time today to reflect on the mountaintop moments of your life, and recall God’s faithfulness. I pray that they will give you vision and faith for the mundane moments of today and the valleys of tomorrow.