Encouragement for Today
Susanne Scheppmann, Co-editor of Online Devotions, Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member
Mark 9:2, “After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them.” (NIV)
Depression stalks me today. My head aches, my mood stinks and sundry piles of laundry taunt me from the floor. I have just returned from a Christian conference where I experienced a spiritual high – a mountain top experience. Now, I have descended into the world of reality. I carry a case of the “spiritual bends.”
Are you familiar with the term “diver’s bends”? It is a physical condition that occurs when a scuba diver returns to the ocean surface too quickly. The body doesn’t have sufficient time to adjust to the difference between water pressure and air pressure. The phenomenon is described on the website of How Stuff Works as, “If the diver were to swim quickly to the surface, it is just like uncorking a bottle of soda – the gas is released. This can cause a very painful condition, and it is sometimes fatal.”
In the case of the “spiritual bends,” just the opposite happens. I come down from a mountain top experience and ordinary daily difficulties cork my spirit. Although it will not be fatal, it is an emotionally painful situation. I would rather stay in the high places with Jesus.
It’s just like the incident Peter, James and John experienced. The Bible gives us a glimpse of their unique experience in Mark 9:2-3: “. . . Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them (NIV). Now that would be a spiritual high to remember!
Next, Scripture records what the disciples experienced when they came down the rocky path to the valley of everyday life. Let’s ferret out those key phrases and see if they might apply to our own lives.
Luke 9:37, “The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him.” (NIV)
We come home from a wonderful church service, a retreat or a conference. We would like to cherish a little time alone to decompress from all the depth of emotion we have experienced. Instead, family and friends swarm around us demanding our attention.
Mark 9:16, "’What are you arguing with them about?’ he asked.” (NIV)
Many times, we must listen to the squabbles of our children. Or worse, someone picks a fight with us. The peace evaporates into a steam of anger.
Matthew 17:14-16, “When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. “Lord, have mercy on my son," he said. "He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.’" (NIV)
We are spiritually refreshed but physically exhausted. Fatigue sets in due to lack of sleep, travel or the emotional high we experienced. Yet, others want us to minister to them. They need us regardless of our own current lack of physical stamina.
So what is the answer to the “spiritual bends”?
I believe the key is to recognize the fact that sacred peaks do not last for long. It’s like the familiar saying, “What goes up must come down.” When the “bends” hit, you can eliminate the element of surprise if you expect them to occur. You will recognize them for what they are – a return to normal life. Then, try to get as much physical rest as possible. This will help you to decompress when the stresses of life come rushing in with gusto.
So with that thought, the laundry can wait. I will swallow two aspirin for my headache and sit on the couch. I will attempt to decompress as my life swirls around me. I need to spiritually decompress.
My Prayer for Today:
Father God, I enjoy the mountain top experiences I have with You. Help me to realize that they are blessings to be remembered and reflected upon. However, I cannot stay there permanently. I ask You to help me readjust to my daily life. Let my light shine a little brighter to those who need me because of my time with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Take a moment to recall a special time you’ve shared with God. For example, a retreat, a Sunday morning church service or a conference. Jot down on a piece of paper your spiritual and emotional feelings prior to returning home. Next, write down the experiences and moods you felt when life returned to your everyday activities. Keep this as a reminder of the “spiritual bends” so they won’t come as a surprise. You will be better equipped to decompress the next you must come down from a sacred peak.
Do I recognize the emotional let down after a wonderful spiritual experience?
How can I handle my mood swings in a more Christ-like manner?
Why do the “spiritual bends” occur?
Exodus 34:33-35, “When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. But whenever he entered the Lord's presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the Lord.” (NIV)
Mark 6:3, “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’" (NIV)
2 Corinthians 12:9, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.” (NIV)
Matthew 11:28, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (NIV)
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