All of us know what it means to have experiences of illumination and insight.  We have had those experiences when even for a moment, vision cleared, doubt and cynicism fled, and faith seemed the most real and reasonable thing in all the world.

            We all have those days when we need to remember the mountaintop moments of life.  Pessimism seems to be the prevailing mood of the time.  There is a general distrust of the political system.  There is doubt and uneasiness concerning the economy.  There is growing skepticism concerning the ability of society to correct its course and to solve its problems.

            Such times underline the deep need to remember our better days.  And by that I do not mean simply happier times, but mountaintop moments when great things seemed great, and life was filled with hope, and we were at our best.

            We all have our good days and our bad days.  That is an inevitable part of living.  But the very important question becomes – which do we consider more valid?  On which days do we base the meaning of our lives – our mountaintop moments or our days of despair?  The plain truth is that both are real – the high and the low, the good and the bad; but we must identify ourselves with one or the other.  The art of living well lies in identifying with best moments, with our highest hopes, and becoming what those moments and those hopes imply.

            I, for one, refuse to believe that clouds have more validity than sunlight, that despair and fear are more authentic than hope.  In our finest moments, we believe in the finest things.  We have had those occasions when life came into focus and the best things seemed real.  So why is it not the very essence of wisdom to believe in those mountaintop moments and base our lives upon them?

            We ask too much of life if we expect to avoid days of discouragement.  We are all going to have them.  The question is not whether they come but how we deal with them when they come.  We need not be at their mercy.  When they come, we can remember, and continue to believe in, and base our lives upon the mountaintop moments.  They are just as real as the days of despair.

             Yet, we also need to remember that it is often the bad times that bring out the best in all of us.  Again and again in history, mountaintop moments have arisen from days of despair.

            Jesus, Himself, discovered the truth of that.  He, too, had days of discouragement.  But those days did not defeat Him.  I am sure that in those times He reached back and remembered His mountaintop moments. 

            To follow Jesus does not mean the end of the bad times, but it means to believe in our mountaintop moments even in days of fear and despair, and to live our lives accordingly.