Ups and Downs

hills and valleys

The land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven.  (Deuteronomy 11:11)

Notice that the Promised Land God was giving to His people Israel was a land that was identified by both mountains and valleys. This provides the perfect picture of the life of the child of God today. We walk through this life knowing that valleys inevitably follow mountains. In other words, life will be a series of ups and downs.

If this message finds you on the mountaintop today, basking in the sun, know the valley is not far away. And if this finds you in the dim light of the valley, you can be sure that it won’t be long before you will begin to ascend the mountain again. May this truth encourage and empower you to keep pressing on.

There are times in life when we feel like we are riding the crest of the waves . . . and there are times when we feel overwhelmed by the waves that are crashing all around us. Take just a cursory glance through the pages of Scripture and you will see this truth in the lives in the saints of God. Let’s look at one example in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament.

Abraham had his moments on the heights of the mountain as he followed God faithfully, not knowing where God was leading him. The Lord God Almighty had appeared to him in the form of a smoking firepot and a blazing torch, covenanting with Abraham to give him and his descendants a vast inheritance of land (Genesis 15:12-20). Yet Abraham also trudged through the valley when he refused to trust in the promises of God. Fearing for his own life, Abraham instructed his wife to tell the people in Egypt that she was his sister instead of his wife (Genesis 12). And if that wasn’t bad enough, Abraham sank even lower when he told the same lie a second time to Abimelech, king of Gerar (Genesis 20).

Peter, “the Rock,” also had his moments on the mountaintop and in the valley. He left his nets to follow the Lord Jesus Christ; he walked and talked with Jesus Christ every day! When Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say I am?” Peter promptly replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This earned a warm blessing from the King of kings: “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:15-18). Peter must have thought that the glow from that mountaintop experience would last forever!

But in no time at all, Peter tumbled into the valley when he thought to rebuke Jesus for telling the disciples that He would soon suffer and die and then be resurrected, earning our Lord’s sharp rebuke: “Get behind me, Satan!” (Matthew 16:23). Peter followed that gaffe up with his three dreadful denials in the courtyard on the night Jesus was betrayed. But our Lord didn’t leave Peter floundering in the valley; Peter was restored, and God used his preaching at Pentecost to add 3000 to the family of faith. I think we would all agree that Peter’s life was a constant series of ups and downs.

Here is the key to making progress through both the ups and the downs of life: We must keep our eyes of faith firmly fixed on Jesus, knowing that both peaks and pits have been promised to the disciple of Christ. Looking back over my life, I can tell you this has been my pattern of progress, and I will also tell you that I learned much more in the valleys of life than I ever would have learned had I remained on a mountain.

So take a moment to prayerfully consider where this finds you and thank God for the promise of getting you to the other side of both the valley and the mountaintop, which He will do for two certain reasons: your good and His glory.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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