Our house sits perched on the edge of Gunter Mountain. From our deck, you can take in the view of the Tennessee River slicing through Lake Guntersville. My husband says we can see 20 miles up and down the river. (I can’t tell you how many yards it is to the mailbox, so I just take his word for it.) We literally wake up on top of the mountain every morning.
Spiritually speaking, few if any of us can say we wake up every single morning with hearts passionately blazing from a mountaintop experience with God. Most of us have experienced the emotional rollercoaster of being high above the fray one minute only to take a swift ride to the depths the next. When we’re at the bottom of our ride, we sadly remember how it felt to be on fire for God at the top, and we mournfully long to return. Then, when we’re on a spiritual high our joy occasionally gets tainted by knowing our passion will eventually fizzle.
Peter certainly knew the highs and lows of walking with Jesus. He knew the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Peter intimately understood what Jesus explained to Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) We cannot get any more grace than the grace we received when we put our faith in Jesus and allowed Him to pay our past, present, and future sin bill. How could there be any more grace than that? We can, however, grow while being planted in that rich soil of God’s amazing grace. Maybe that’s why Peter ended his second letter with, “You must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18)
Perhaps all we need when it comes to maintaining our passion and growing in grace is a change of perspective. I recently read a sermon by Charles Spurgeon written in the 1800’s. It still offers all of us a bit of encouragement to take whatever ups and downs life throws at us. I’ll leave you with a taste of that sermon. May his words motivate each of us to become a “solid lump of burning fire”.
“Do not think, because your wild heat is gone, that you have not grown. When we light a fire, we always put the straw and kindling at the bottom; and when we first light it, there is a great deal of flame, and a great deal of smoke. But, afterwards, when the flame gets hold of the coals, there is not so much blaze, but there is really more heat. You may have lost some of your flame and smoke, but then you have more solid fire; we would rather warm our hands by the coals than by the straw, for that must soon go. So is it with grace; it begins with a flame which catches the lighter substances, and lays hold on the imagination and the passions; but, in after life, it appeals to the judgment, and makes the man one solid lump of burning fire. He is not a little flame, rising towards heaven, that the wind might blow out with a puff; but he becomes so strong a fire that the wind shall but increase the flame, and shall make the heat the greater. So it may be with you. Perhaps you have become more solid though you are less fiery.
Do not suppose, when you are depressed, that, therefore, you are not growing. Many of God’s plants grow best in the dark, and he often puts them in the dark to make them grow. When you are growing upwards, recollect that there is such a thing as growing downward. You may have had, yesterday, a divine manifestation that took you up to the top of the Delectable Mountains. You must not think you are big because you are up on high, for pigmies perched on Alps are pigmies still; and if you were ever so little, it would not make you any bigger if you were taken to the top of St. Paul’s. If, on the other hand, you are deep down in a mine, do not imagine that you are any the smaller for that reason. I can tell you that you will often grow faster in the dungeon than on the top of a mountain; but it is not a pleasant place to be in. When our depravity is revealed to us, when our desolation of spirit, and our utter hopelessness and powerlessness are uncovered and made manifest by God’s Holy Spirit, we grow, I believe, even faster than we do when, on the wings of seraphs, we are privileged to mount on high.
So, do not measure your growth in grace by your feelings. Some of you make a kind of barometer of your feelings. Do not do so. If we are in Christ, we are in Christ by faith, and not by feelings; and recollect that, whether your feelings are good or bad, you are no more or less a child of God. Your faith, sinner, unites you with the Lamb, — not your feelings. Trust him in darkness, trust him in distress, lean on him when you cannot see him; and when there seems nothing to walk on, still tread, for the ground is firm beneath the foot of faith.”Charles Spurgeon, Growth in Grace, 1958