Posts Tagged ‘3-17-2019’

Life in the Valley 3-17-2019

Saturday, March 16th, 2019

This Transfiguration event was both literally and figuratively, a mountain-top experience. Only three of the disciples were privileged to witness what happened. Significantly, it all started while Jesus was praying. First, his face changed in appearance. Then, his clothing became brilliantly white. Next, Moses and Elijah appeared and talked with him. And finally, God spoke from a cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to Him.”
But before we deal with it, I want us to skip ahead to the next day and include it in our thinking also. It was then that Jesus and the disciples came down from the mountain and were met by a desperate man with a sick son. The other disciples had tried to help the boy, but their efforts had been in vain. So Jesus filled the gap and did what they had been unable to do.
Each of these back-to-back days represents a vital dimension in the life of us Christians. One is the mountain of worship; the other is the valley of work. We must have both. If we major on either to the exclusion of the other, our lives will become spiritually lopsided.
Each of us as Christians needs to learn how to move back and forth between these two poles. Just as physical life depends upon an alternating rhythm – we inhale and exhale, we work and rest – so our spiritual lives can stay vibrant only when we alternate between taking in and giving out. But this is a very difficult balance to maintain.
This is the inclination of Peter up there on the mountain – He wanted to stay on the mountaintop.
He had never seen or heard or felt anything like that before. Jesus was there in all of his radiant beauty. Moses and Elijah were there – heroes from the past, so real and vivid. For one brief shining moment, everything made sense.
The cares of this world were left behind. Small wonder that Peter said, “Master, how good it is for us to be here. I want to stay!
What Peter wanted was to freeze that moment and hold on to it forever. Who could blame him? Surely, we have all had those mountain-top experiences that we wish would never end. Life was working; God was real. Trouble seemed so far away; and victory seemed so inevitable. That is where Peter was, and he wanted to stay there.
His was a natural inclination. This is what Christian faith means to some people – a retreat from life, far above the cares of the world.
But Peter’s desire to escape was not the only religious stance in evidence that day. We mentioned briefly the other disciples who remained in the valley.
I have wondered at times why Peter, James and John were the only ones who went to the mountain. We have supposed that they were the only ones whom Jesus invited, but that is not specifically stated.
It could be that the other nine choose not to go. Perhaps, they were so aware of the work to be done, of the needs to be met that there was no time for mountain-top retreats. Maybe they were the first century equivalent of today’s activists who think practical problem-solving is the only function of Christian faith.
Thus, we have two extremes – those who would love to stay on the mountain of worship and not be bothered with the problems of the valley, and those who are so involved with the problems of the valley that they have no time for the mountain.
It is worth noting that Jesus did not endorse or reject either position. He went to the mountain, but would not stay there. He returned the next day – refreshed, renewed, ready to meet the needs and challenges of the valley.
Those first disciples had to learn what we need to learn. Christian faith is more than work and more than worship. It is both. Those who would use their faith as an avenue of escape from the world and its problems have totally missed the meaning of Christ and his mission. He is the only one who “came not to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many.” If we would walk with him we must realize that nothing is given to us to keep for ourselves. We are blessed in order that we might become a blessing to others.
By the same token, attempting to give, and give and keep on giving will lead to another kind of problem. Eventually a person must replenish his supply, or he will find there is nothing left to give. Those nine disciples in the valley were eager to help the afflicted boy but found themselves unable to do so. They somehow lacked the resources to meet the need.
So it is with us. We will never be through with the mountain of worship or the valley of service. All of our lives we will need power to live from and purpose to live for.