From Mountain Top to Valley, and Back Again

mountain-top-valley

Few things in life are more exhilarating than being part of a miracle, that moment when God steps into time and alters life as you know it. From the moment the Apostle Paul was struck from his horse by the radiant, manifest presence of Jesus, he was forever changed. Miracles became a part of his daily life. But with the peaks of miracles there also came the valley of attacks.

Lystra is a roller coaster of a ride for Paul. Driven out of Iconium, Paul and Barnabas show up in Lystra and begin to preach to the crowd (Acts 14). Paul sees a man who is lame but has a heart burning for the things of God. Paul responds to this man’s wild faith and shouts at him “Get up, stand on your feet!” The man leaps up,and begins to walk as the crowd goes wild. This is the perfect response to a miracle; the people knew that God was real and dwelling in their midst. As some of the onlookers witness the miracle, they begin to believe that Paul and Barnabas are gods and prepare to offer a sacrifice to them. The two respond, saying, “We’re not gods; this miracle was performed because of Jesus!”

We’re talking about a mountain top experience right here. Jesus shows up, heals a guy and everyone knows it. What happens next? Persecution comes from Iconium, and Paul is stoned very near to death. One would commonly refer to this as a “valley experience”. These men dragged his nearly dead body away and dumped it outside of town. The disciples gathered around him, prayed, and Paul jumped right back on his feet, heading straightaway for Derbe! Mountain top!

When Paul’s returns to Lystra a while later, this is his summary of the events: “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” It’s interesting he doesn’t say “through many miracles”. In my experience, while God is blowing your mind with mountain tops, the devil is doing his level best to bottom you out with attacks. The lows can have an effect on your emotions as you encounter them, and that’s perfectly normal. The key is to place your hope and strength in the Father, rather than your emotions (Psalm 71). After all, any time you face an attack, it means you’re doing something right! So when you’re pressing in and seeing great victory, if the lows are knocking you around, it’s alright. Look up, press on and know that you’re valiantly entering the Kingdom of our great God!

 

Nigel Stratton

Nigel grew up in Australia but spent the next 20 years in America where he was heavily involved in his local church, doing everything from running cameras to preaching in prison. He loves blogging and the clarity writing brings to the complex issues of life, and he recently returned to Australia to marry his wife Kary.