On the Other Side of the Mountain

May 10, 2024 • Rev. Jen Gibbs

I've been in Houston, Texas the last part of this week with an Executive Pastor's Cohort. This group of pastors gathers for continuing education through the Texas Methodist Foundation; it is an incredible group and a rich time of learning.

Over dinner, we ended up talking about hiking and mountain climbing. Biblically speaking, mountaintops are a place of God's disclosure; God's people meet with God and themselves in powerful ways. These are amazing stories of calling, revelation, and faith-building. An executive pastor from Alabama responded with, "I always talk about the importance of planning for the descent." He went on to say that the descent is where injuries tend to happen. It's also where people get lost and disconnected.

If you've ever done hiking or rock climbing, you've likely found that to be true. There's nothing harder on your knees than hiking down the mountain! Even more, most of us plan and work toward the climb. We climb toward graduation. We climb toward career goals. We climb toward helping our kids reach their goals. We climb toward health recoveries. We climb toward retirement. But once reached, what does our descent look like? Deciding what to do after graduation can come with stress and grief. Retirees have often shared that their new season didn't come easily to them. What does life look like after the health crisis when things aren't the same? This is the descent.

Jesus made his descent from the Mount of the Beatitudes after he gave the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 8, it says, "Jesus came down the mountain with the cheers of the crowd still ringing in his ears. Then a leper appeared and dropped to his knees before Jesus, praying, "Master, if you want to, you can heal my body." Jesus reached out and touched him, saying, "I want to."

The first thing Jesus found to do after an incredible mountaintop experience was to use what had filled him. To share what he had learned. To live what he had taught. Jesus' descent was about bringing it all back to others. Rob and Susan have a safe plan for their descent, will return to share on August 11th, and a January spiritual retreat will follow. But we too have our descents.

Planning for descent is a reminder. You have something to share. On the other side of that degree, that career, that trial, or crisis... on the other side of that mountain, you have something to share. Consider how you might offer that to others. Like Jesus, you just might meet someone who's been waiting for what you have to offer.

Serving Christ Together, 


Rev. Jen Gibbs