Oswald Chambers’ devotional, My Utmost for His Highest is chocked full with wisdom and illustrations for outdoor ministry applications. One of my favorites is his October 2nd reflection based on Mark 9:2-32.
As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead…. Jesus asked the boy’s father, ‘How long has he been like this?’ ‘From childhood,” he answered. ‘It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.‘ “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for him who believes.’ — Mark 9:9, 21-23 (read Mark 9:2-32 for context)
THE SPHERE OF HUMILIATION (OCT. 2)
After every time of exaltation we are brought down with a sudden rush into things as they are where it is neither beautiful nor poetic nor thrilling. The height of the mountain top is measured by the drab drudgery of the valley; but it is in the valley that we have to live for the glory of God. We see His glory on the mount, but we never live for His glory there. It is in the sphere of humiliation that we find our true worth to God, that is where our faithfulness is revealed. Most of us can do things if we are always [viewed as the hero] because of the natural selfishness of our hearts, but God wants us at the drab commonplace pitch, where we live in the valley according to our personal relationship to Him. Peter thought it would be a fine thing for them to remain on the [mountain], but Jesus Christ took the disciples down from the mount into the valley, the place where the meaning of the vision is explained.
“But if you can do anything. . .” It takes the valley of humiliation to root the scepticism out of us. Look back at your own experience, and you will find that until you learned Who Jesus was, you were a cunning sceptic about His power. When you were on the mount, you could believe anything, but what about the time when you were up against facts in the valley? You may be able to give a testimony to sanctification, but what about the thing that is a humiliation to you just now? The last time you were on the mount with God, you saw that all power in heaven and in earth belonged to Jesus – will you be sceptical now in the valley of humiliation?
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- It is easy on a mountain top experience to feel like a hero, but what about when we come back down into the valley? Life is lived in the valley isn’t it? We need times on the mountain to gain clarity and perspective so that when we come back down into the valley of the city, we can live more purposefully for God.
- How have you built a regular routine of “mountain” experiences into your life to gain perspective on the glory of God?
- What mundane, commonplace, things are you dealing with life in the “valley” right now? In what ways does this “sphere of humiliation” that you and I experience in normal life draw us closer to Jesus? How does reflecting on Mark 9:2-32 change your heart toward life in the valley?