Next week, I plan to do some mountain climbing in Mount Hermon, California. I’m an expert climber. I even have worn-out hiking boots and a really cool backpack to prove it.

Okay, so the hiking boots are worn out because I’ve had them for ten years, and I wear them to Walmart because they’re comfortable. And the backpack holds my computer. And it’s pink. I feel you judging me.

The truth is, I’m not a great, grungy mountain climber. And Mount Hermon isn’t really a mountain. It’s more of a cushy retreat center, with a few hills and valleys. But I will climb those hills and valleys. And I plan on having a mountaintop experience while I’m there.

I’ve often heard life compared to a series of hills and valleys. We struggle and climb, and we live for the peak moments, when we’re on top of the world. We dread the valleys, where it feels we’ll be crushed by an avalanche or swept away by flood waters. There’s even a song about it out right now—about God, being the God of the hills and valleys. I love that song.

But it missed a part.

What about the plains?

For me, the hardest struggle isn’t the climb to the summit. And though the valleys can be awful, I often find great strength at my lowest points. The most difficult part of my journey is in the flat parts—the long stretches when nothing much seems to happen.

The flat parts of my life are the times when everything’s going okay. Not awful. Not great. I wake up, work, pay bills, go to bed. Wake up, work, pay bills, go to bed.

I’ve wondered why the easiest stretches of my life can be the most difficult. It seems like those would be the best times! It seems like, in those places, my joy would be full, my cup overflowing. But that’s not usually the way it happens. For me, the joy comes at the hills and valleys.

The plains bring the blahs and the blues.

When I’m in the valley, I feel close to God. I seek Him with all that’s in me. I feel His presence, and I cling to Him with every speck of strength.

On the summit, He’s there. With every breath, His presence sings. With every mountaintop view, His essence soaks me.

Why does He feel so close in the hills and valleys, but so far on the plains?

Where does He go?

That’s when I realized . . . He doesn’t go anywhere. He loves me just as passionately on the prairie as on the peak, just as deliberately in the grassland as in the gorge. The difference is me.

Forget clinging. I don’t even look for Him on the moor.

I get caught up in the hamster-wheel journey, and I forget to talk to Him.

I forget to thank Him.

I’m so busy living the dream, I forget to breathe in His essence.

The reason I get depressed on the plains of my life is because I’m lonely for my Father. But it doesn’t have to be that way. He provides the meadows so we can rest with Him, not escape from Him.

Today, I will call out to my Creator, not because anything bad is happening. I’ll look for Him simply because I love Him. I’ll invite Him for coffee; we can be workout buddies on the treadmill of time. And I’ll thank Him for those sweet savannah stretches of serenity.