We long for the mountain experiences but life happens in the valley. And God meets us there.
Mountains have a special place in our emotional and spiritual vocabularies. We associate them with grandeur, and majesty. We sing, write, and dream about them.
We often describe a moving religious experience—such as a great service where there is lively singing, sweet reverence, tears flowing, and people drawing close to God—as a “mountaintop experience.”
Numerous times in the Bible, God showed His glorious, mighty, and loving nature—on a mountain. Think of Elijah. Think of Jesus’s most famous sermon, the “Sermon on the Mount.” Think of Jesus and three of His disciples on what we call the Mount of Transfiguration.
“You’ve got the wrong guy”
It seems like Moses was perpetually on the mountain with God. That’s where he encountered the “shekinah glory,” and where he received the Ten Commandments—twice. It was from a mountaintop that he was permitted to see the Promised Land.
Yet a memorable event in Moses’ life took place not on a mountain but on flat ground. Ordinary ground. It’s in the third chapter of Exodus.
Moses was tending sheep. Moses wasn’t a prophet, priest, or king. He was a shepherd. Good, valuable work, but pretty ordinary.
And then something extraordinary happens. A voice from heaven. Through a burning bush. The voice calls Moses by name. In an instant Moses was interested, scared, and amazed. Who wouldn’t be?
The voice was God’s. And God assures this ordinary man that He wants him to do an incredible thing. Lead the people of God out of Egyptian bondage and captivity into deliverance and freedom.
Moses asks a question we all have asked. “Who am I?” He was really saying, “You’ve got the wrong guy. You took a wrong turn somewhere, God.”
Struggling with ordinary
God’s answer is intriguing. He doesn’t list Moses’s qualifications. He simply states, “I will be with you.” In other words, It doesn’t matter who you are, Moses. Your background and pedigree are immaterial to me. “I will be with you.”
Which leads us to the next logical question: “Who are we?” Who shall we say has sent us? God’s profound response is, “I AM.”
God says, “I AM.” I am beyond description. I am beyond explanation. Whatever we think about God, He is more than that. All of the Bibles and books in the world have only given us a glimpse of Him.
We all have a story similar to Moses’s. We struggle with ordinary. We want fireworks, goose bumps, and balloons to fall from the sky, but we find that life is routine, even if it is a hectic, unpredictable routine. We ask is that all there is? Is that life??
In the shadow of the mountains
Yes, that’s life. Life on flat ground, in the shadow of the mountain, means flat tires, lost jobs, and sick babies.
But the God who made it all, who made us, doesn’t just live in the mountains. He comes to plain, regular, flat places.
He makes those places holy. God comes to where the bills are paid, laundry is being done, computers are stared at, tests are taken, and He makes them holy. He comes to infuse flat ground with His own presence and plans.
He comes to infuse flat ground with His own presence and plans.
“Take off your shoes, Moses,” He says, “you are standing on holy ground.”
The next time we stand in the line for groceries, or the neighbor kid’s ball lands in our yard, listen for God’s voice that says, “This is holy ground.”
Greg Mason is superintendent of the North Carolina District for the Church of the Nazarene.