I’m reposting this series from back in 2009 when I was a youth pastor. Enjoy! -JB
“The mountain is no ordinary place. It is a dangerous environment of holiness, the place where the ordinariness of human, earthly life has contact with the holy that destabilizes and consequently transforms. We have trivialized “mountaintop experiences” as though they are romantic opportunities for religious self-indulgence. This account [at Sinai], against any such domestication, portrays the mountain of holiness as a dangerous meeting place that will leave nothing unchanged” (Walter Brueggemann).
I leave today to lead a group of senior high students into the backcountry mountain wilderness of Colorado the week of July 26-August 2. Adventure Trips such as this are designed to get students away from the ordinary in order to experience the extraordinary. Our team will be led by experienced professional trail guides form Noah’s Ark, a Christian wilderness outfitter located near Buena Vista, Colorado,that leads groups like ours year-round.
Our group will spend the week engaged in fun mountain activities which include rock climbing, whitewater rafting, backpacking and wilderness camping. I am certain the trip will be filled with fun adventures, new and stronger relationships, many laughs, plenty of physical challenges and much more.
My hopes for this trip, however, are focused on the spiritual. For months I have been exploring the many transformational God-encounters in scripture that take place on the mountaintop. A quick fly-over the Bible from Genesis to Revelation reveals a strikingly potent mountaintop theme. The most powerful, earth-shattering, life-transforming encounters with the Living God take place on the mountaintop. In the Bible, when it makes casual mention of a mountain, you know that God’s presence is near, waiting to be revealed in glory. Likewise, whenever God acts in a decisive way or reveals Himself to human beings by way of a “theophany,” there is likely a mountain looming in the background.
What is the significance of mountains in the unfolding story of the Bible? What are some of the most famous mountain encounters with God? What lessons are found in these life-changing mountaintop experiences that we can apply to our own lives? These are some of the questions our team will explore as we hike through the rockies and make camp under the stars at 12,000 feet of elevation. My main hope and prayer for this trip is that these teens will have their own life-altering, eye-opening encounter with the Living God.
As we leave the flat geographical landscape of the midwest and venture into the sharp, rocky, unpredictably bumpy terrain of the mountains, I pray the landscape of our souls would become less flat and predictable as we grow more bold and adventurous in our faith by following after the unsafe, unpredictable mountain God of scripture.
In the next post(s) I will begin highlighting the particular mountain encounters we will be exploring on our journey in Colorado. Feel free to grab your Bible and travel along with us as we venture into what Walter Brueggemann describes as the “dangerous environment of holiness, the place where the ordinariness of human, earthly life has contact with the holy that destabilizes and consequently transforms.”