There have been photographs in the media lately showing mountaineers queuing to make the final push to the summit of Mount Everest. The large numbers of people being given permits to climb this great mountain have been causing a problem, as the consequential overcrowding near the summit has caused delays in reaching the top, which have sadly resulted in the deaths of some climbers on their way down.
For mountaineers, the time when they are most vulnerable to falling seems to be when they are making their descent. On the way up to the summit, they are totally focused, with all their strength and energy being channelled into reaching their goal. Having stood on the top of the mountain, with the elation that success brings, coupled with exhaustion from the effort taken to get there, it is easy for concentration to lapse on the way down and for accidents to happen.
It seems to me that, as Christians, we can also be particularly vulnerable after reaching a high point in our lives. When God has been powerfully at work and we feel as if we are on the mountain top, it is easy to lose our focus and reliance on God, and to allow pride to come in. Proverbs 16:18 warns us that: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”
An example of this in Scripture is King Uzziah. He sought the Lord and did what was right for much of his reign. While he did so, God prospered him, bringing him great fame and power. However, we are told in today’s verse that: “After Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the LORD his God.” He entered the temple and burned incense when it was only the priests who were authorised to do this. He became angry when challenged, and the Lord caused leprosy to break out on his forehead, which remained for the rest of his life.
Elijah is another example of someone for whom things went badly wrong after a high point. He was used amazingly by God to show His power and might in opposition to the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18 & 19), but very soon afterwards he was running for his life, terrified by Queen Jezebel, and wanting to give up and die!
Perhaps we should take heed and be aware of the need to remain especially vigilant after “mountain top” moments in our lives, particularly when God has used us powerfully, because those are the times when we are most vulnerable to slipping and falling. We need to keep our focus on the Lord, remembering that we do everything in His strength and power. Jesus tells us that apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5).
Prayer: Lord, thank You for the times when You have used me for Your Kingdom purposes. I know that without You I can do nothing of any value. Help me to keep my focus on You and to look to You at all times, especially when I am on the “mountain top”. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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