And we’re back! After a summer retreat that reunited our supporters after two and a half years away, we return with a brand new YOBcast – with more episodes on the way! This episode we’re talking about mountaintops and valleys: those proverbial “everything is bold and clear” and “everything is long and dark” seasons of life.
Coming off a YOBBERS retreat is a mountaintop experience for many in our community. How do we come back from experiences like that? And what are some other mountaintop moments we’ve experienced beyond YOB?
Join Tom, Ryan, Aaron, and Ben for this storytelling episode! And be sure to comment below with your own mountaintop/valley stories. We’d love to hear them.
LINKS FROM THE SHOW
- Tom’s YOBBERS retreat blog: “What Your Other Brothers is All About”
- Aaron’s YOBBERS retreat blog: “To Unite and Cheer On One Another in Our Burdens”
- Eugene’s YOBBERS retreat blog: “Sick of Gay Men No Longer?”
- Ben’s YOBBERS retreat blog: “Why Go on a Gay Men’s Christian Retreat?”
COMMENT ON THIS EPISODE
What are some of the peaks and valleys you’ve witnessed and endured? What have you learned, and what’s still hard?
Hi, Tom, Ryan, Aaron and Ben
Thank you for a poignant and thoughtful reflection on the YOB retreat and your experience of spiritual mountains and valleys. I really pray that God will sustain you and all the other Yobbers who are currently back in the valley of everyday life, perhaps in a less understanding environment.
I can think of a similar mountain experience when I helped take some young people to the Greenbelt festival nearly 20 years ago. (Greenbelt started in the 70s as a Christian arts/teaching festival, very much in the then evangelical mould. It has broadened since to encompass almost every Christian denomination and although theologically pretty orthodox is also socially quite radical.) To be able to mingle around a festival site safely among like-minded people who were so full of commitment, was amazing. At the Sunday communion service I sat next to some people who were either Anabaptists or Moravians (I forget). Where else could I have met them? And whatever separated us was far outweighed by what we had in common in Christ.
But life has other lesser mountains – hills? – too. For the last 20 years I have worshipped in churches at the Anglo-Catholic end of the Church of England. I have become used to every main Sunday service being a liturgical Communion service, and when I receive the sacrament Jesus draws very close. Sometimes Bible verses really speak to me – either to reassure or to challenge me. Some hymns, again, draw me close to God. One, in particular, ‘ I will sing the wonderous story’, especially the second verse, greatly moves me:
I was lost but Jesus found me,
found the sheep that went astray,
raised me up and gently led me
back into the narrow way.
Days of darkness still may meet me,
sorrow’s path I oft may tread;
but his presence still is with me,
by his guiding hand I’m led.
I find it difficult to get through the third verse without tears, not of sorrow, but of gratitude.
As for valleys, these have mainly occured in the workplace. I have worked in the private sector, where the profit motive can lead a business to do what is expedient, rather than what is right. I have also worked in the state sector, where, in the UK, people are often asked to do more and more work with ever scantier resources. Neither scenario is a recipe for happiness for those who spend most of their weekdays at work. Speaking truth to power in these contexts is not easy, but God has sometimes enabled me to challenge decisions. (In Enneagram terms I am a 1w2, with elements of 5 and 6, so this kind of fits…)
I hope that these reflections are of use. I wonder if others have similar mountains, hills and valleys.
Sent with love.
Loving these UK perspectives from you, Ian. Thanks for sharing! Love the lyrics. Days of darkness indeed may still greet us. Holding on to the hope of always being led through this next long valley ahead.