3 Steps to Overcoming the “Mountaintop Moment” Addiction

Tama Fortner

Updated Feb 05, 2024
3 Steps to Overcoming the “Mountaintop Moment” Addiction

We can get so busy chasing the next promotion, the next stage in a relationship, the next spiritual high that we miss the moments we’re living in right now

I have a theory about our culture, both the secular and the Christian, and it’s this: we are addicted to the mountaintop moments of life.

The more I’ve observed the people and the world around me—and the more I’ve reflected back on my own life—the more I believe this is true. 

It’s an easy-to-understand addiction. After all, those mountaintop moments are wonderful, aren’t they? We soak them up, savor, and celebrate them. So what’s the problem? Those mountaintop moments are just that: moments. And what do we do when the moment passes? For so many of us, the answer is that we’re off and chasing after that next mountaintop moment. 

Here’s the thing, though: while life is made up of moments, only a few of them are lived on top of the mountain. Most are not. Most of life is lived in those moments in front of the sink doing the dishes, in the drop-off line, at the kitchen table memorizing multiplication tables, in the meetings, and in the late-night midnight moments. It’s in the getting up and going and getting on with getting it all done moments. Moments that can so easily slip away unnoticed and in many ways unlived because our hearts, our minds, our attentions are so focused somewhere on a wished-for future that we miss out on the life that is passing by right in front of our eyes. 

Let me illustrate with a little story about a literal mountaintop.

A Mountaintop Moment

Last summer, my family and I headed off for an adventure: to hike to the top of Black Elk Peak in South Dakota’s Custer State Park. Black Elk Peak is the highest point between the Rockies and the Pyrenees Mountains in France. Roughly seven miles roundtrip with an over 2,000-foot elevation change, the trail winds and climbs for over three miles to a stone fire tower at the top—and then winds and twists its way back down again for another three miles or so. 

It took us roughly two and a half hours to hike to the top. Once there, we braved the stone steps up to the fire tower and even climbed its ladder for the highest possible view. It was breathtaking. Or it would have been had we not been completely enveloped in a cloud bank. But even though we couldn’t see that we were on that mountaintop, we could feel it. And it was breathtaking.

Together, we soaked in that moment. We savored crisp, clear air. And we celebrated with granola bars and clinks of water bottles. 

It was an amazing, remember-all-our-lives mountaintop moment. A “moment” that lasted for about thirty minutes. Then it was over. And we began the hike back down the mountain for another three or so miles, and another two or so hours.

Let me be honest for a minute. Trail guides label this hike as “moderate.” I suspect, however, those writers were younger and in better shape than me. That journey up to the fire tower was just plain grueling at times. And, to my surprise, the journey back down was even tougher, as seldom-used muscles were put to the test. If I had rushed through either the going up or the coming down, or if I had allowed myself to focus on the difficulty, that hike would have been miserable. But the steepness of the trail and a lack of familiarity with the terrain (along with more than a few stops by me to desperately gulp in oxygen) forced us to slow our pace—and opened our eyes to the wonders of the journey itself.

We listened to the quiet babble of a mountain stream, admired the colorful streaks of minerals and clusters of quartz embedded in the boulders, marveled at the wonder of looking down on the treetops—all things we would have missed if the mountaintop were our only goal.

Then, as our journey down neared its end, about a half mile away from our car, came the most wonderful moment of all. It was along a flat stretch of the path we were tempted to hurry past. Instead, we stopped. A small herd of deer stood munching on grasses and, rather than run away, they stayed and stared at these strangers who had stumbled into the midst. And we stayed and stared at these wonders of God’s creation, listening to the still, small voice of God as He whispered, “See what I have done.”

The Joy of the Adventure

I learned something that day. Something much more profound than questioning the age and fitness level of whoever labels the difficulty of trails. 

I learned that the joy of the adventure wasn’t on top of the mountain. The joy of the adventure was all along the journey.

And I don’t believe that truth applies only to literal mountains.

We can get so busy chasing the next promotion, the next stage in a relationship, the next spiritual high that we miss the moments we’re living in right now. We miss the joys of life that are all around us in the most ordinary and everyday moments. 

So what’s the answer? How do we make sure we’re living that rich, full, and abundant life Jesus tells us He came to give (John 10:10)?

1. Pause

It’s something we don’t do a lot of in our rush-and-hurry world. But God’s Word reminds us of its necessity with both a command and an invitation. A command to “Be still, and know that [He] is God” (Psalm 46:10 NLT). An invitation to “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 NLT).

Because there is more to stillness than simply not moving. Other translations deepen the meaning with phrases like “cease striving” (NASB) and “let be and be still” (AMPC). God’s command is a call to pause and to lay down our troubles, our worries, and our strivings. To let God be God. And to trust Him so much that we allow ourselves to accept His invitation and rest in the joy and wonder of His provision.

2. Pray

God invites us to step boldly into His presence (Hebrews 10:19-20) and to “pray about everything” (Philippians 4:6 NLT). We can even pray as Elisha did for his servant, that we would have eyes to see. Remember Elisha’s servant? He’s the one who awoke one morning to an army of enemies. They surrounded him and the sight of them filled his eyes until enemies were all he could see (2 Kings 6:13-17). 

Perhaps it’s not enemies that surround you. Perhaps it’s endless to-do lists, relationship struggles, health issues, or just the daily battle of trying to do and be everything for everyone around you. Are your eyes so full of the ordinary and everyday things of this world that that is all you can see? Then lift up Elisha’s prayer—the prayer that enabled his servant to see the “hills full of horses and chariots of fire (v. 17) all around him:

Lord, open my eyes to see.

Ask God to show you His presence in your life. Ask Him to show you all the intersections of ordinary and divine. Ask Him to show you the joy of living life with Him. (Spoiler: Matthew 7:7 tells us that He will!)

3. Ponder

As God begins to open your eyes to the joy and wonders of His presence all around you—to the million and one intersections of ordinary and divine that He pours into your life every day—take time to ponder them. Soak them in, savor, and celebrate them. 

Soak in the sunrise God sent to greet you, the smile of the one you love, the intricacies of the flowers God so splendidly clothes.

Savor the smell of an afternoon rain, the unexpected text that made you smile, the warmth of the hand holding yours.

And celebrate the joys of the ordinary—of dancing in the kitchen, of helping little ones learn and grow, of folding laundry and mowing grass.

And a bonus . . .

4. Praise

Praise the God who gifts you not only with sunrises, rain showers, and wildflowers, but who also gifts you with endless love, incomprehensible mercy, and unimaginable grace.

That rich, full, and abundant life Christ came to give us isn’t lived on the mountaintops, it’s lived in the presence of God who is right here with us—with you—transforming this ordinary, everyday moment into an intersection of ordinary and divine.

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Kar-Tr

Tama Fortner is an ECPA award-winning and bestselling author with more than sixty titles to her credit, including her latest release Everyday Joys Devotional. Tama has collaborated with some of the biggest names in Christian publishing to create inspirational books for all ages. But her greatest accomplishments happen in a joyful little home on the outskirts of Nashville, Tennessee, where she lives with her family and a feisty little pup who is convinced he’s people too. Learn more at www.TamaFortner.com.