(The following is the January 18 devotional from my Next Step Devotions book. Before reading it, I suggest you read Matthew 16 and pay close attention to verses 13-23.)
Within a few verses in Matthew 16, Peter experiences a mountaintop moment with Jesus, followed by what must have been one of his deepest emotional valleys. After discussing who others believed Jesus to be, Jesus asked his disciples, “who do you say that I am?” (v. 15). Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (v. 16), and Jesus affirmed this tremendous God-given insight.
The mountaintop experience did not last long, however. When Jesus spoke about his coming suffering, Peter rebuked him. Jesus replied: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me because you are not thinking about God’s concerns but human concerns” (v. 23). Peter plunged from the mountaintop to the valley.
As Christians, we commonly experience extremes on our faith journey. We have intimate moments so close to God that we long to hold on to them forever. For Peter, Jesus’ transfiguration in Matthew 17:4 was such a moment. For us, they may include when we come to faith, a memorable worship experience, heartfelt prayer, quiet times, or occasional unique settings like camps or retreats. We cherish such times, but they don’t last. We also have occasions when we feel estranged from God, uncertain of his presence and how to restore our fellowship with him. Perhaps we feel the rod of his discipline for sin. We wonder if things will ever be right again.
We don’t live most of our life on the mountaintop or in the valley but somewhere between. The highs energize us and create memories that help us through tough times. The valleys teach us what not to do again. On the mountain, in the valley, and in between, God promises to be with us the whole way. We are not alone if we belong to Christ.
Describe to a friend a mountaintop experience you had with Christ. Share one of the valleys. What did you learn from each? What does your Christian walk look like on most days between those extremes?