top of page

God of the Mountaintops

by Pastor Chris Kumpula - July 5, 2023

As we await the return of our youth from Estes Park, many of us are reflecting on our own "mountaintop experiences." These times and seasons for intently seeking and recognizing God's will in our life often have an immediate and lasting impact on our spiritual life. Speaking for myself, it is impossible to consider how God worked saving faith in my life without remembering the FLY Convention. It was a place and time to encounter the God otherwise taken for granted, ignored, or denied.

Considering these experiences biblically, we see two important parallel "mountaintop experiences": the confirming of the covenant at Mount Sinai (Exodus 24) and the transfiguration of Jesus at Mount Tabor (Matthew 17:1-9). Let's make some observations.

1. God works on a few at a time

In both instances, God's presence is brought to a subset of the whole group. In Exodus, a few leaders God had already been working on (Aaron, Nadab, Abihu) go up with Moses, and in Matthew, a few leaders God had already been working on (Peter, James, John) go up with Jesus. God works on a few people at a time.

We never know how God works on us in experiences like our FLY Convention. I remember being VERY skeptical about going as a student, despite persistent encouragement from a dozen others in my youth group. I'd call them "friends," but up to that point, I'd never figured out how to do anything other than pretend I was something I wasn't. But when a little group is together on the mountain, God works on a few of us in ways that change us all. God alone can work in the hearts of others, so pray for our students, youth, and parents.

2. God rips us away from the familiar

Both of these experiences in the Bible elevated disciples to places more conducive to His work on our heart. Mountaintop experiences are often the result of God putting us in a situation that rips us away from our familiar homeostasis of everyday life. The journey up the mountain led people away from familiar surroundings to an out-of-this-world setting with God.

Our world is one saturated with disparate content yet desperate for saturated relationships. It's getting hard for all of us, especially our students and youth, to unplug from the many thousands of hours of digital content we unintentionally digest in order to intentionally plug into God's Word. The harder it is to pull off, the more important it is to do. The more we can disrupt our kids' lives with God-focused, God-purposed relationships, the better chances we have to overcome our secular yet familiar world.

3. God moves us off the mountain

God doesn't leave his people on the mountaintop for long. Whether enjoying the sapphire road and glow of the presence of God in Exodus, or dwelling with the biggest heroes of Bible history in Matthew, the disciples don't get to stay long. God moves us off the mountain back to the valley, because that's where real life and mission reside.

Discipleship is lifelong. We wish we could accomplish it by leveraging high dosage event-based venue discipleship. But discipleship is more than metaphorically vaccinating kids for the spiritual sickness of the world. If the Son of God had to spend three years with His disciples, we probably can't get away with a one shot solution for ours. Returning to the valley of mundane life is an opportunity for the whole church family to reexamine its own spiritual health, purpose, and mission.

4. God had prepared us for the mountain

We overlook all too often how both of these mountaintop experiences were the culmination of groundwork done in the foothills. Both groups of disciples had already benefited from seeing the acts of God, hearing His Word taught, serving God's mission, and being invested into by a disciple maker. Sometime after we've left the summit, we recognize God had prepared us for the mountain beforehand.

It was a mountaintop experience that allowed me to "put the pieces together" enough to understand what Jesus had accomplished for the world and for me. We often credit catalyst events more than the subtle ways God had already been working on us. We can credit the FLY Convention for creating spiritual changes that were actually faithfully nurtured and attended to by humble servants in the congregation over the span of years. Our FLY Convention ministry doesn't run for a week; it runs for two years at a time.

5. God sends us into the valley

God's purpose lies in the valley. The disciples in both Exodus and Matthew returned to a larger church as God's called people. Experiencing God in the valley involves finding the light of His redemptive purpose in the shadows of sin, brokenness, hurt, hardship, sickness, and death. God uses mountaintop experiences to help prepare us and send us back into the unchanged valley as changed people.

Now what? That's the question we all ask returning home from the mountain. For me, it involved a rapid pace of change before the effect of the mountaintop "wore off." In many ways, it still did. Much like people mistakenly thought we could simply "resume" life post-COVID lockdowns, we can't simply return to life as normal with students as though the last week never happened. We need to be intentional with our kids to help them live as a light in the darkness of their culture.

Mountaintops & Change

Mountaintop experiences don't always happen on mountains, but they often do. Mountaintop experiences don't always mean immediate changes, but they often do. Moses's and Jesus's disciples left the summit changed. And I'm grateful for the ministry of the FLY Convention because my life was changed for it. Without that experience,

I'm not sure I would be a pastor.

I'm not sure I would be a father.

I'm not sure I would be a husband.

I'm not sure I would be a Christian.

I'm not even sure I would be alive.

But thanks be to God and His grace,

I'm sure where, when, and how Jesus saved me:

on the mountaintop of Calvary.

Praying for change! -PK


bottom of page