Nobody ever really wants to come down. For one thing, it’s usually a long, hard walk down from The Mountaintop. Wouldn’t life be better if we could just stay up there in all that sun-shiney happiness, relishing all that is good and lovely and glowing? That’s what the world will tell us. But I don’t believe that. Life would not be better if it was only mountaintops and no valleys. Because valleys are where the roots take hold. Valleys are where the depth resides. It is in the valleys where the soil is fertile. I’m not pretending that the valleys aren’t hard– more often than not, painstakingly hard — but valleys serve a beautiful purpose — even if death is what they hold.
As I write, it is the Wednesday of Holy Week. You might call today ‘The Valley’ of Holy Week. Palm Sunday has come and gone, where Christians remember the parade of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. (Which, by the way, was not exactly “triumphal” by the world’s standard, being that the long-expected King came riding in on a donkey– a symbol of peace– as opposed to a horse, a symbol of war and power.)
Sunday was a joyful, expectant celebration. Then Monday came and went. Then Tuesday. And now, Wednesday–The In-Between. The Valley. It reminds me of a sermon that my Pastor gave on Transfiguration Sunday, when we remember the miracle of Jesus being transformed on the mountaintop in the presence of Peter, James, and John. Jesus revealed His Glory there– giving those who loved him a glimpse of Hope– for He knew the darkness of the valley that lay before them… and Him. It was a pivotal moment– when humanity meets the supernatural, and when that which is temporary comes face to face with the eternal. The Disciples wanted to stay up on that mountain, but Jesus knew they had to come back down. We all do, eventually.
That Sunday, Pastor Steve spoke on how glory is not found only on the moutaintop… but it is found in the low, dark places of human life and servanthood and suffering. How the primary symbol of Christian life is not a mountain, but the Cross…which is where Jesus was headed. For those who are followers of Christ, we have to pick up our own crosses daily and follow Him there. But the unfathomable beauty for us in the valley of Holy Week is this: Because of God’s great love for us, Jesus did the work, while we reap the benefit. He suffered Friday for us, so that we would gain Sunday. Anyway, I thought a lot about my On The Mountaintop and Back to the Mountaintop posts that day– knowing that soon I’d want to write about the importance of the Valley. And Holy Week seemed the perfect place for that.
So tomorrow is Thursday… when a beautiful mandate was given in the midst of that very first Holy Week. ‘It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end…’
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must LOVE ONE ANOTHER.” ~ John 13
We are called to love one another in our journey down the mountain. Most importantly, we are called to love one another as we walk through The Valley together. Walking through The Valley is more earth shattering for some than most. I’ve not yet walked through one I felt I couldn’t bear. I haven’t suffered disease, but my friends have. I haven’t been affected by a tragic loss, but my friends have. I haven’t clawed my way through depression, but my friends have. I haven’t had a life stripped from me, but my friends have. I haven’t suffered abuse at the hands of another, but my friends have. And I pray that when I come to a valley such as these, I will remember the mountaintop– and know deeply in my soul, that The Valley had a purpose for me– just as the Valley of Holy Week had a purpose for the world.
So Friday will come, and we will mourn. Then Saturday will rear its ugly head in the deepest valley of despair. But let’s keep loving one another and putting one foot in front of the other– because as the old adage proclaims, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s a comin’!” And when it does, we will celebrate on our mountaintops, knowing this: