Going to the mountain top to meet Jesus

By Al Earley - A Religious Point of View

It was Aug. 1, 1997, and I had just begun a fast to seek guidance about whether God wanted me to move to a new church. What began as a three-day fast turned into the most spiritually intense seventeen days of my life. God spoke to me in ways I had never experienced before, and through this He gave me a new vision for doing ministry, a leading to serve a new church development in LaGrange, Kentucky, and a beautiful daughter we adopted from China. Those are just the high points of those 17 days.

In Biblical language we call that a “Mountain Top Experience.” Have you ever had a time that you sensed the presence of God in a special way? That is what Jesus’ closest disciples Peter, James, and John were experiencing when Jesus took them onto the mountain, and God transformed Jesus as white as light. Moses and Elijah were there talking to Jesus, and then “a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!’” (Matthew 17:5).

We can learn a lot about mountain top experiences from what happened to them. First, they didn’t want it to end. Peter volunteered to build a place for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah to stay, just to make it last longer. Though I was glad to start eating solid food again, I certainly didn’t want the spiritual intensity of my relationship with God to end. But we cannot stay on the mountain top. God gives us these special experiences to give us strength so we will be better prepared for the challenges that God intends the mountain top experiences to prepare us for.

Second, once you have had a mountain top experience get ready for the challenges of a lifetime. When Peter, James, and John left the mountain with Jesus do you remember what road they started walking down? It was the road that led to Jerusalem, and Jesus’ eventual arrest, crucifixion and resurrection. Now that was a challenging road to walk.

After my 17-day spiritual journey I thought my life was going to be blessed more richly than ever. It was blessed, but not the blessing I expected. I thought my house would sell quickly in Ohio, we would buy a home of equal beauty in Kentucky, the church would explode with new members, and my daughter from China would realize what great parents she had been given, and quickly adjust to being the model child. I was wrong on all counts. Through the years there have been times when I have held on for dear life to those 17 days to remind myself that God is still God, and always will be, and I can trust him for all things, even when the world tells me there is no reason for hope. God knew he was going to send me on the hardest journey of my life, and so he gave me the sweetest experience of His presence so I could complete the journey.

Finally, we need to go find the mountain top to let God recharge us. Jesus went into the desert to fast and pray for 40 days to prepare for his ministry. He prayed all night to know who would be his disciples. He went to the mountain top in order to pray. He prayed until he sweat blood in the Garden of Gethsemane before his death. I go away on regular prayer retreats to quiet places so God can have me to bless and strengthen me for the journey. I think if Jesus needed prayer retreats His disciples do to.

When was the last time you sensed the presence of God in a special way? Have you ever gone on a spiritual retreat? Ask your pastor about retreat opportunities in our community. Do you think you could handle 24 hours with only your Bible, and leave your phone and laptop at home? Have you ever been quiet long enough to hear God’s gentle whisper (see I Kings 19:1-14)? If you ask God to bless you with His special presence, I believe you can expect God to honor your request.

Read previous articles at visit www.lagrangepres.com.

By Al Earley

A Religious Point of View

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