(Originally written about 7 years ago…)
“Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (Luke 9:33)
As a child, the story of Jesus’ transfiguration was always one that left me baffled, wondering what lesson I was supposed to be learning from this unique (and, honestly, scary) encounter. It’s interesting, though, that as I continue to read and meditate on God’s word, He uses the circumstances of my life to help me experience His truth in new and life-altering ways.
Get the picture in your mind… Jesus takes three of His closest friends up on a mountain, away from the crowds of needy people begging for their attention. They spend time praying and experience God’s presence in a powerful, new way. An overwhelmed Peter makes a seemingly reasonable request. “Wow, Jesus… this is amazing! Let’s just set up camp right here. Let’s build some shelters and we can settle down, for a while at least!” But the Bible says that Peter, however well intentioned he might have been, spoke out of ignorance. I can imagine Jesus gently persuading him to put down his hammer and make the long trek back into town.
So often, in my own ignorance, I make the same request that Peter did. For me, the “mountaintop experience” might be a retreat where God moves powerfully or a worship service where I sense His presence in a strong way, or a time of personal devotion where God has done a deep work inside of me. I, like Peter, come face to face with the reality of who God is, and I want to stay there, in that place, for a while at least. But, inevitably, the retreat ends and I must go home, the worship service is brought to a close, my time alone with God is interrupted. I am thrust again into a busy world full of needy people begging for my attention. And then what?
Do I allow my encounters with the living God to impact the way that I live my life? Am I a better teacher or a more compassionate friend because of my experiences? Do I come closer to seeing myself and other people the way that Christ does? Can others tell that my priorities have changed because of the way that I spend my time, energy and money?
Peter had more important work to do than building shelters on a mountain. God wanted to use him to cast out demons and heal the sick in Jesus’ name, to preach Christ’s truth and grace to those who were spiritually hungry, to help found the Christian church against which the gates of hell cannot, and will not, prevail.
I wonder what important work God has for us to do when we slow down enough to listen to His gentle persuasion? Please don’t misunderstand my point… remembering is good. Praising God for our experiences and His powerful work in our lives is important. But let’s not get stuck there. Let’s put down our hammer and walk back down that mountain. And let’s embrace our challenge, our call, to allow our genuine encounters with Christ to transform the way that we live our lives.