There are some believers whose minds and hearts experience special moments of divine elevation that not all Christian hearts have. The vast majority of believers today are content to live on the plain. Others, however, are destined for the valley, and these require those moments on the mount.
Take for example these three men that Mark sets aside for us in his gospel account – Peter, James and John. Is there anything that these three have in common? Yes, they would all be there in the inner circle in the Garden of Gethsemane. They were going to be present to share in the Savior’s sorrow, and so they were brought together to experience a common joy.
Many times I’ve wondered why it was that these three men that experienced the elevation of the Mount were then taken to experience the gloom of the Garden. I think I have finally come to an understanding of it. The reason they were taken to the Mount is because they were destined for the Garden. Simple, huh? You see, the lives that will need the strength of the sunbeams are those which will be called to the inner grounds of Gethsemane. That’s why only these three were allowed there.
To be sure, among the others there were wonderful workers. Andrew had an amazing ability to find men and Matthew loved to show the love of Jesus in practical ways and Philip loved to count and calculate. But it was just because these other were so good at doing, and as a result spent a great deal of time doing so, that they had less time to feel. They were so busy doing things that they didn’t have time to grow sad or sorrowful or secluded.
Peter, James and John were all bound to carry great burdens of the soul – not great burdens of the body. Peter was going to weep over his sin. James was going to die a martyr in life’s morning. John would be the last – destined to bear the exile of lonely Patmos. They were all coming to states of mind in which work would be impossible and would require more than they could learn or gather from the easy existence of that level life on the plain. That is why Jesus picked these three for the peak. He gave them a day of delight knowing that there was coming a long night of darkness. He gave them sight of the sunbeam, a glimpse of the glory, a cluster of Canaan’s grapes. What He was in effect saying was, “This sight, this memory will help you get through the days you are about to pass through. When the pillar of cloud surrounds you, you will have the pillar of fire behind you. You will live by the light of yesterday. You will glow with the sunshine of the past. The songs of the morning will be with you in the night. The crisp air of the mountain will be with you in the dank air of the dungeon. The memory of the music will be with you in the roar of battle.”
This is even more reason to thank the Lord for the views from the peak. It is these precious points that allow certain ones to conquer Gethsemane. You see, the only thing that can conquer sorrow is joy. I can conquer through the cross, but never by the cross. Even from Christ’s cross, Christ’s victory, came from Christ’s peace. From the joy already laid up in His heart.
There is no way that we can bear the pressure of the valley if it were not for the memory of that hour in the heights. It is in those valley moments that there comes an angel from my past to strengthen me. He helps me to remember those precious moments on the peak and won’t permit my spirit to touch the ground. If it weren’t for yesterday, I would be consumed by today. That’s why I so cherish those times, those precious times, with my Jesus on the hill.
Some say that they really don’t mean or amount to anything – these experiences of elevation. They say that they simply come and go. That may be, but it is when they have passed from my present sight that they become so very strong. It is in my memory that they are mighty. I never really realize their tremendous power until they are gone. The songs of the morning bring comfort in the night. The view from the mount supports me in the valley. That’s why I can say with confidence, “Lord, give me a drink for the desert; gird me with strength for the struggle, arm me with peace for Patmos, light a torch for life’s tunnel, fill me with joy for my journey, because one breath – just one breath of your mountain air will keep me all day long.”