One More Hill
August 1, 2020, 2:00 PM

A few weeks after Phillip and I got engaged he was brought into the life of the church as a future clergy spouse when we attended the yearly family church retreat at Buffalo Mountain Camp around Johnson City, TN. As part of the retreat free time, a group of us decided to go for a hike. Some of the church folks that had come to the camp for years were leading the hike. I put on my good hiking gear and was ready to go. Phillip put on blue jeans, a t-shirt, and his old shoes. Then he said he was ready to go… he was from the country. Off we went… as the hike continued Phillip asked me “how far are we from where we are going?” I responded “not too far”. He did not like my answer so he asked the question again. This time I responded “one more hill”. That seemed to appease him and the hike continued. Several hills later my calm and peaceful fiancé was not happy with me. His response to me was “do not say one more hill”.

Since then, in our marriage, when things get difficult and we seem unsure he looks at me with his baby blue eyes and says “it’s just one more hill”. I smile every time, even when I’m frustrated. During this pandemic it seems this has become a reoccurring slogan. I have come to respond “I wish it was one more hill, mountain top experiences with God are life changing, but we are made to be people of the valley.” He smiles and tells me I have gone too deep with this.

There are many examples in the Bible referencing mountain top experiences the Ark rested on a mountain after forty days of rain (Genesis 8:4, 20-22). Abraham was called to the mountain to make a sacrifice (Genesis 22:1-14). Moses experiences the burning bush on a mountain and received the Lord’s commandments on a mountain (Exodus 3:9-10,12 & 19:18-20). Elijah rested and waited for the Lord on Mount Horeb (1 Kings 19:12). In the New Testament, he speaks of the Beatitudes on a Mountain, some of his disciples had a mountian top experience and wanted to build tents and stay on the mountain (Luke 6:17-23 & Matthew 17:4). Jesus would teach during the day and then retreat to the Mount of Olives (Luke 21:37). They crucified our Savior on a mountain (Mark 15:22-25). The list of experiences of Mountains could continue.

The opposite of a Mountain is a Valley. There are many examples in the Bible referencing the work done in the valley. There are battles in the valley where Saul and the men of fight the Philistines in the Valley of Elah (1 Samuel 17:1, 17). In the Psalms we are provided comfort in the valley of death (Psalms 23:4). In the book of Joshua the people see victory and pain in the valley (Joshua 7:24-26). The story of dry bones coming alive happens in a valley (Ezekiel 37:1-14).  People have found rest in the valley within its places and spaces as Isaiah testifies too ( Isaiah 7:19). Jesus teaches love in the valley before he retreats to sleep (Luke 21:37). In 2 Corinthians, the valley is a happy place filled where people praised the Lord (2 Chronicles 20:26). The lists of valleys in the Bible are extensive

Honesty, this blog has been harder to write than others because I’m not sure if we are on the mountain or in the valley. Solitude is found on the mountain, so if you have been quarantining at home you may feel you have had more personal time with God.  But, Celebration is found in the valley where we gather to offer our praise to God. For some of us staying and working at home has been a blessing, for others it added chaos and you are still working through it. For some of us, we grieve in the valley and the opportunity to have corporate worship and fellowship with friends and family.

Wherever you are, whoever you are, whoever you are trying to be, know this, you are loved by God on the mountain and in the valley. No matter what direction you are coming from or going to “its just one more hill” and God is present. Amen.