It was just last weekend that I had the privilege of helping to lead a group of Jr. High boys on a retreat. It was a special time. Saturday night in particular, from what I witnessed and experienced, was definitely a very impactful moment in many of their young lives. It was what we would call a mountaintop experience — for many, it was the first time they really experienced meeting Jesus “face-to-face.”
One thing I enjoy reflecting on is the common symptoms of post-retreat, post-conference, or post-anything-super-Jesus-focused. It’s said that motivational sermons, speeches, or moments have an expiration date of 72 hours — after that, you’ll lose the flavour. We love to reminisce about the glorious moment had on a missions trip, at a worship night, conference, retreat, or wherever you might be. We love to wish we were back on that mountain again, experiencing deep powerful intimacy with God that doesn’t seem to be possible outside of these special events.
It’s so easy to come home from one of these mountain top experiences and feel like we are slowly heading back to the valley. We turn around only to see the mountain off in the distance with its peak illuminated by the bright moment we shared with the LORD. We long to get back on that mountain, so we sign up for the next retreat, conference, or missions trip just hoping to be able to meet God in that tangible way again.
Is God at these events or in these places in more tangible ways than when we are going about our everyday routines? Does His presence just dwell at camp grounds, conference venues, or on missions trips? Does He just like to show up for the big parties before slipping off into the night? No, no, and lastly, no. Some would argue that there is something special about the atmosphere at Jesus-centred events, but nothing about Him changes in these situations — it’s US that changes.
Those Saturday night sessions on top of the mountain aren’t reserved for these special events — the amazing news is that every night can be Saturday night in our spiritual lives.
When it really comes down to it, I see one major reason why we so often have these “unique” experiences at these different events: intentionality. Jesus is as available to us on a missions trip as He is when we are alone on a spare afternoon. What is very different, though, is our attitude and mentality. We get lost in the everyday routines, habits, and distractions we allow to be a part of our lives — not all of which are bad things. However, we shift our focus, our intentionality, from a wholehearted dedicated weekend or trip of being with fellow believers, worshipping, and actively seeking His presence, to things that often don’t matter in the scope of eternity.
We all have our struggles, but I simply want to share this one major point tonight: God is closer than our very skin, always. It’s up to us if we want to intentionally nurture that, or if we want to let the distractions of this world continue to steal our daily “Saturday night mountaintop” joy.