Life is Meant to be Lived in the Valley, Not the Mountaintop
- Sarah Elizabeth Finch
- 2016 Oct 04
The summer before I left for college, I went on a mission trip to Lima, Peru. I had been on trips before, but this one distinctly stands out to me because of one afternoon that was left open and unscheduled. My team and I were instructed to pray and listen to what God had for us, and then to go and do.
Collectively, we pieced together numbers and images and prayers laid on our hearts during our thirty minutes of meditation, and then we set out on foot, wandering through the streets of the city. We ended up at a red door on the side of the mountain, and we knocked. What followed was an incredible dinner in the home of believers who had come to know the Lord through their six-year old son. He had met Jesus at a Vacation Bible School similar to the ones we had been putting on all week.
I was filled with joy at seeing the Lord working through short-term missionaries like me. I felt overwhelmed with purpose - I was exactly where I was supposed to be and could see God clearly working in my own life and the lives of others.
And then, life happened. I got married, bought a home, had two babies in two years, and now I’m swimming in a sink full of dirty dishes and hanging on for dear life lest I get sucked down the drain. The dirty diapers are piled almost as high as the laundry, and the closest I am to having a calling is when I cry for help at five o’clock, only to realize there’s still an hour before Dad gets home to save the day.
Life right now is an abrupt adjustment from that mountaintop “high” that I experienced. And after I’ve sung “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” for the fifth time, it’s easy to get discouraged and bogged down in the mundane and the ordinary.
Life is not a long series of mountaintop experiences. Life is a long walk in the valley with an occasional trek up the side of the mountain for a breath of fresh air. Then, it’s back to work at the bottom.
Even as we are called to be purposeful in the grand moments of life, we are called to be purposeful in the small ones. Luke 16:10 (ESV) says, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.”
Why is it so hard to be faithful with the small things? They’re less exciting, less pressing, and often it feels like there’s less reward. But they’re worth it. Our hard work in the valley pays off when we get to see the incredible views from the top. How can we maintain our calling in the midst of the mundane?
Remember Who Has Called You
God is a God of kings, queens, servants, and slaves. He has ordained each one of our stations and callings, and daily equips us to perform our duties if we ask. Psalm 16:6 (ESV) says, “The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”
A beautiful inheritance. This means you, the brilliant CEO who works twelve-hour days and struggles to see how God is using her in her co-workers’ lives. This means you, the college student who longs for life to get started, when the reality is God has you where you are now for a reason. This means you, the single mother who is barely hanging on, but has been given the precious gift of teaching her children about Jesus.
We all have a beautiful inheritance. We are all children of God. As such, we have a role to play no matter where we find ourselves. Our role as image-bearers of Christ and messengers of the Gospel is constant regardless of our situation. So be filled with the purpose to which He has called all of us, knowing that He is creating a good work in us - His faithful servants on the soccer field, in the boardroom, and at the dinner table.
Remember You’re Story Isn’t Finished
Philippians 1:6 (ESV) says, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” He began a work in us when we accepted Him as our Savior, and He is bringing it to completion at the day of Christ. If Jesus isn’t back yet, He isn’t done!
There is so much freedom in acknowledging that we are still in the middle of our stories. There is grace for every attempt we make, and guidance for all of our second tries. The next time you feel like you’re in the trenches, remember that God’s not finished with you and He will bring new mercies every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Acquaint Yourself with Others’ Stories
Every single person is an image-bearer of Christ, so every single story matters. I think it’s important to familiarize ourselves with stories of martyrs, heroes, people around our country, and people around the world. Instead of reading these accounts with jealousy and thoughts of “if only my life were this exciting,” commit to celebrating the different specific callings God has placed on each one of our lives. Remember, too, that at the end of the day, we all share the same purpose to glorify His name.
Finally, Look for the Marvelous in the Mundane
Practically speaking, ordinary days take a toll on our hearts. This is why we desperately need to use our vacation days, get away from our busy schedules, and take time to decompress. Time and money do not always afford us these privileges.
When you’re stuck in a rut, take inventory of your day and choose to hold onto what worked. Take your eyes off of how you’re performing, and focus on what God is teaching you or doing through you. And when you experience a mountaintop moment, write it down! Remind yourself of this snippet of God’s faithfulness revealed, so that when you’re struggling you can hold onto the truth that He is still there.
It’s hard being faithful day-in and day-out. It’s hard being faithful with purpose. God calls us to be faithful with what’s in front of us, not what’s in front of our neighbors, or our family, or our friends. And often, that requires making the most of small moments even when we’d rather be living big ones.
Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV) “Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with every good thing to do His will. And may He accomplish in us what is pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Sarah Elizabeth Finch is a wife to Jake, mother of two children under two, and a storyteller at heart. Outside the home she works contract as a medical Speech-Language Pathologist and volunteers with Student Ministries at her church, discipling a small group of girls from sixth grade through high school. She is passionate about uncovering beautiful stories in seemingly mundane moments. Some of her life-long goals include getting an MFA, running a marathon, writing a book, and seeing her children know Jesus. Connect with her on on her website, or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.