A refreshing stiff climb. The mysterious feeling of boldly going where few feet have ever touched virgin heights before. Spectacular views to match soaring emotions. Fresh air and freedom. Awe. Exhilaration. Renewal.
|My husband. A while back. In the Alps.|
But, always, I then have to climb down. Down in the valley, my muscles ache, the air is hot and sticky, and the roads are crowded and noisy. Multitasking clouds my focus. The dirt on my boots leaves tracks through the kitchen. I have to mop.
Was it worth that climb only to return to the dreary level again? The Lord of the heavens and earth seemed so close and accessible up there where the horizon circled me. I felt renewed up there, near to Him. But down again on the other side, too soon, I can't find Him so clearly in the drudgery of the every day habitual life. Or at least, I don't expect to.
"I lift up my eyes to the hills," said the Psalmist, "from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth."
Have you ever hiked a mountain with a kindergardener, a preschooler, a toddler, and a baby? My back aches after a "quiet" day around the house with them; mountains are out of the question. It may as well be Everest for all the impossibility. Leaving them in the hands of a capable babysitter so I can set off upward alone is nearly as improbable. If I had a day by myself, fighting gravity on a long dirt path for hours just wouldn't top my to-do list. But even if I wasn't after a physical mountain, the idea of spending a day alone soul searching and refocusing just isn't that feasible. It sounds wonderful, but so does Cinderella's castle, and Narnia, and an unhurried shower; it just isn't reality. Not now.
Ever imagine what it might have been like to hear Jesus teach? How incredible it would have been to hear the sermon on the mount first hand! To sit near Jesus as He spoke, looking down over the undulating hills of Israel, must have been awesome and life changing. Biblical in proportion!
But after challenging and renewing the focus of everyone up there on the mountain with Him, Jesus went down. He didn't live on the mountain top, after all. He hitched up his robe and plodded back down the slope to the hot, dirty, crowded life on the lower ground. He spent several chapters up on the mountainside, in the clear, bright air, but in Matthew 8, Jesus went back down to the daily grind.
First person He's recorded to have met? An outcast. A leper. Contagious, diseased, dirty, and desperate. A man who couldn't have gone up the mountain, probably; it would have been painful or physically impossible, and he wasn't allowed to be near people anyway. He couldn't have heard Jesus teach up there. But suddenly, there was Jesus, in front of him, at the bottom of the mountain, in the middle of his path of regular life.
"If you are willing, you can make me clean." The sinner in the broken body knew His Savior.
"I am willing." Said Jesus. And He healed the man of his incurable disease.
Then he raised a dead servant back to life. He cast demons out of people and healed a lot of sick folks. He even healed his friend's mother-on-law's headache, so she got up and made them all lunch!
There, right in the midst of the normal, the daily, the real, the painful, the hum-drum and drudgery, Jesus was willing to be.
Willing to rub shoulders with the dirty folks. Willing to tenderly fix the hurting folks. Willing to eat a fish sandwich with Peter and his mother-in-law! Jesus put Himself right there in the middle of run-of-the-mill reality. The leper, the dead guy, the demon possessed, Peter's wife's mom - they weren't up there on the mountain to hear Jesus' words of exhortation and comfort. They couldn't be.
So Jesus met them in the midst of their ordinary.
Did that mother-in-law grumble when Jesus and His friends left muddy footprints all through her house? Well, maybe. At least, she probably figured Peter should have known better. But the Creator of the world was standing in her kitchen, choking down warm fish and stale bread (since she probably hadn't baked any that day, being out of Motrin and stuck in bed with a fever and all.) He had come to her.
He likes to do that, I think. Even still.