Mountains Without Valleys

“After His baptism, as Jesus came out of the water, the heavens were opened and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on Him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is My dearly loved Son, who brings Me great joy.’” (Matthew 3:16-17 NLT)

Remember a time you felt really close to God? Maybe it was at youth camp when you were a teenager, or when you went forward after an inspiring time of worship. Perhaps after a spiritual retreat when you devoted an extended period just to read and study God’s Word and pray. These are often referred to as “Mountain top experiences.” Times you feel emotionally charged by God’s presence, like you can conquer any enemy or withstand any attack.

Is it safe to say Jesus’ baptism was a “Mountain top experience” for Him? Maybe this happens to you all the time, but I’ve never seen the heavens opened or had the Spirit descend on me like a dove or hear God say from heaven how much He loves me. But please understand, God has made it abundantly clear to me that I’m cherished and loved by Him, just not that demonstratively.

Notice what the next verse, Matthew 4:1, says: “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” For the next forty days Jesus went without food, and the Bible says: “During that time the devil came…” (vs 3). What’s my point? Often, after a spiritual “high,” it’s followed closely by an emotional low and/or a very trying season.

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on

We are emotional beings. We can have highs and lows with some degree of frequency that may not be directly related to our walk with God. But the valleys we experience that effect our spiritual development have some commonalities. There is purpose in everything the Lord allows to touch our lives, but the peaks and valleys in our walk with the Lord typically have a specific reason. They often come just prior to the launching of a new chapter of our life in Christ.

For example, Jesus’ temptation was critical on several levels. It came just before the beginning of His earthly ministry, right after His baptism. Often that’s when Satan attacks us the hardest. Why? Because if he can derail us before we get our momentum as a believer, it’s going to be much harder for us to regain our balance and get back on track.

There was a young man I worked with when I was selling cars, shortly after my divorce. I’d prayed for him and talked to him with some frequency about his need of Jesus. God was obviously working, so when I invited him and his girlfriend to go with me to a Billy Graham crusade, they agreed, and when the invitation was given, they both went forward. I was elated and later, as we spoke of what happened at the crusade, I invited him to church with me the next Sunday, but shortly after the crusade he became evasive and wouldn’t have a conversation with me regarding what happened. Unfortunately, that’s not unusual.

Had Jesus failed to stand up to Satan and not remained steadfast in His determination to stay pure and focused on His mission for His Father, we would still be lost without hope. Gratefully, our temptations don’t carry the same impact as Jesus’, but whether we stand strong when tempted or give in can have a critical effect on how the Lord is able to use us, and how fruitful we can be for Him moving forward.

Life is filled with tests of all kinds. Some result in elation and joy, but others can lead us down very long and sorrowful pathways. So be very mindful of Satanic attacks after spiritual breakthroughs or highs. Expect tempting circumstances to arise and be extra prayerful as you seek the Lord for what might come next in your walk with Him. As with Jesus’ temptations, sometimes ours are leading to a season of unprecedented victory and usefulness.

That’s another reason daily disciplines are so vital. Reading and studying God’s Word, and ample time to lift your needs and the needs of others to the Lord in prayer are valuable tools in protecting us from Satan’s attacks. Peaks and valleys are unavoidable but falling prey to Satan’s tricks is avoidable. When we overcome his temptations and resist his attacks, we move ever closer to the Lord and increase our fruitfulness for Him.

Blessings, Ed 😊  

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