Growing up in a Christian family, I have heard the analogy of a mountaintop experience.
And the discussion was that anytime we have a gathering of believers or a particular time of fellowship, or fasting – that was a mountaintop experience. It is possible that this terminology was derived from the Mount of Transfiguration where Jesus was transformed for a brief period of time. The logical sequence of a mountaintop experience was that there was a “valley experience” soon after. I don’t exactly recall if the idea was to have as many mountaintop experiences as possible between these valleys.
But, when I think about it, I believe that for a growing Christian, there cannot be alternate mountain and valley experiences over time. It should progressively be mountain and plain; then mountain and plain experiences. Because when we are in the presence of God in a “mountain experience” and then we go back to work or school or other responsibilities, it’s not that we are away from the presence of God. We should be continuing in the presence of God and aware of it even while we do other things.
When I look at the disciples of Jesus, they had many continuous experiences in the presence of God. Sure, there were times when they failed and messed up, but that has nothing to do with being in the valley or the mountaintop. As they were still in the presence of God, they got up from their failures and continued on in the presence of God. As long as we are human, we will make mistakes of ignorance, of folly etc and face circumstances because of being in a fallen world. But that is not necessarily a valley experience. As long as we remain in the presence of God continuously, that is still a mountain experience.
However, if a person is running away from God and deliberately staying in sin, then yes, he is “away” from the presence of God. The example from the Bible would be that of Jonah, who literally ran in the opposite direction from God. But for any Christian who is seeking God’s will, and desiring to honor Him, he should be able to have a sustained mountaintop experience going from height to height to height – whether he or she is at work or church or play, it doesn’t matter. And so, over time, there should be a visible, substantive change from where one started and where one is currently, by the grace of God.