Thursday, August 18, 2011

Those Mountaintops

One weekend in the mid-1990s, I found myself in the Hoosierdome in Indianapolis. The arena was filled with thousands of other men, all there to attend a Promise Keepers conference. The speakers were national names, and their talks were incredible. The entertainment was just as incredible – I can vividly recall walking to the stage during lunchtime, and Steven Curtis Chapman doing an impromptu jam for the 200 or so us who were milling around in front of the stage while everyone else was at lunch.

The memory that has stuck the most was the singing of a hymn, with thousands of male voices singing the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy.” And singing it a capella. It was the summit of a mountaintop experience.

While it was thrilling and inspirational, the conference was utterly unlike daily life. Mountaintop experiences are like that – they bear no resemblance to the everyday experience of living. And that’s part of the idea of conferences anyway, to pull you out of the everyday, inspire and motivate and often change you, so that you go back to the everyday with a fresh outlook, a deeper understanding and a renewed commitment.

But faith is not lived out on mountaintops. Faith is lived out in the valleys and the plains. Faith is lived out in small acts, small doses. It’s not lived out in the company of thousands of other men, but in the immediate family, the workplace, the neighborhood and the church. Faith rarely happens in the big things, because the big things tend to overwhelm all other considerations. Even the singing of that hymn in the Hoosierdome (now called the RCA Dome), as emotional as it was, was less about faith that something that came from faith.

Our faith is lived out in small acts, small acts of grace.

Fixing supper for a family dealing with illness or tragedy.

A kind word to a co-worker who’s depressed.

A thank-you note for your church organist.

Giving your Sunday School teacher a hug.

Standing firm against oppression.

Holding one another accountable.

Giving to a charity or to the poor, not because it’s a tax deduction, but because your faith is spilling over from your heart.

Showing up for at 7 a.m. on a Saturday for the church’s work day.

Creating a home that your children know is a safe place.

Loving your children when they are at their most unlovable (consider who did that for you).

Biting your tongue before an unkind word is uttered.

Being there, not necessarily saying anything, when a friend loses a spouse. And being there three months later when they’re feeling their most alone.

Using the gifts and talents you’ve been given to help someone else.

Spending time on your knees.

Salting the workplace with an example of godly behavior, and doing it without telling anybody.

Small things. Small acts of faith, faith that is lived and breathed. Small acts of grace. We live our faith in the places we live.

We don’t live on mountaintops.

Over at Faith Barista, Bonnie Gray is hosting a blog carnival on small acts of faith. To see more post, please visit Faith Barista.


Poetic Soul said...

I can just imagine that singing, beautiful

Karen Kyle Ericson said...

This is so how I want to live. I love this list. We don't live on mountaintops. It's all in the small things. Thanks for this. Holy, Holy, Holy is my favorite hymn. It's so honest, simple and real.

Katie said...

I love the practical small acts of faith you describe living out our faith in valleys and plains.

Louise Gallagher said...

This is beautiful Glynn.

A list to live by.


Maureen said...

You exemplify what it means to hold faith deep enough inside to fully express it as a giving out to others.

Lisa notes... said...

Having just come from a mountaintop experience at a Woman of Faith event, I totally needed to read this. Life isn't lived at the top of the mountain and I want to be just as satisfied with God "down here" as I want with him "up there" this weekend.

Thanks for all the great examples, Glynn. Very useful.

Sheila said...

This is a gift. I'm working on a manuscript all about this topic.

It's so helpful to read another perspective. Do you have any more? :)

Unknown said...

It seems to me that it isn't so much that we don't live on the mountaintop all the time, as that we have two planes of existence. There are moments when the fog of tangibility clears and we encounter our secure stance sheltered in the palm of God's hand. Those moments of revelation are what reassure us in the day-to-day, but even without such memories, the promises remain true. "Fear not, for I am with you."

Anonymous said...

a thousand tongues
in the hearts of men
through quiet valleys
and rough dry plains
they echo
the glory
of His name

S. Etole said...

That hymn is one of my favorite.

Irene said...

I am so inspired by this post, Glynn! Thank you so much for the enlightenment.

God bless! :-)


Jennifer said...

"But faith is not lived out on mountaintops. Faith is lived out in the valleys and the plains. Faith is lived out in small acts, small doses"- Amen! Great and encouraging post!

H. Gillham said...


Anonymous said...

"we don't live on mountaintops" but the sad reality is many people try. They go from one experience to another trying to find what they're missing when in reality what they're missing is the bulk of their life and being effective with it. Great post, Glynn.

Bonnie Gray said...

As you were calling out and illuminating all the small acts of faith, I couldn't help but think of the passage where Jesus said that what our Heavenly Father sees done in secret is what will be rewarded. The small acts are the hidden ones, that God does not see as small. This encourages me in my day to day work with my little boys, which most, if not all is completely little, repetitive spurts of work. ;)