2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. 3 His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. 4 And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.
5 Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 6 (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)
7 Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”
8 Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.
9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what “rising from the dead” meant.
Dear God, verse 2 is the verse of the day from Oswald Chambers’s My Utmost for His Highest. I thought the first few words of his thoughts were a good place to start with this passage:
We have all experienced times of exaltation on the mountain, when we have seen things from God’s perspective and have wanted to stay there. But God will never allow us to stay there. The true test of our spiritual life is in exhibiting the power to descend from the mountain. If we only have the power to go up, something is wrong. It is a wonderful thing to be on the mountain with God, but a person only gets there so that he may later go down and lift up the demon-possessed people in the valley.
The part of you not wanting us to stay there. I guess this is why I’ve always had an issue with monks. It feels like they’ve made an intentional choice to avoid the valley as much as possible. I might be wrong and this might be unfair. Perhaps their valley is being there to greet those who come to their monasteries to find a mountain of their own. But I suppose it seems like a…I almost said selfish, but it’s not selfish because they deny themselves a lot. I guess I’ll say it seems like a decision that does not accomplish as much in the world as you might otherwise through their lives. But again, I don’t understand it and I could be totally wrong about this. I guess I’m just acknowledging where my judgment of monks comes from and thinking through the idea that there is likely more to it than I understand because I haven’t take the time to learn more about it.
I was in our church group last week, and the women had just come back from an ACTS retreat the weekend before. One of them mentioned not wanting to lose the high of the experience of being there with you. It reminded me of a song by Charlie Peacock called “Monkeys at the Zoo.”
It’s about coming back from a mountaintop experience: “Will it be different now or the same? Will I have learned anything? Or was it just a way to spend a day or two set aside for thinking thoughts about you? If that’s all it was, I had a good time…”
I’ve been to several mountaintop experiences and I’ve had that experience of coming back motivated but then not doing the little things to discipline myself to carry you into the valley. I expect the work that others did to provide my mountaintop experience will be enough to sustain me. But that’s like going to a tennis camp, working with a coach to improve my game, and then returning home and not doing anything to sustain my level of tennis. But then when someone asks me to play on the weekend I’m terrible. Why? Because I didn’t put in the work on my own.
It was April 2000 when I returned from a mountaintop experience at Laity Lodge. You laid it on my heart to start taking scripture and journaling to you about it. Praying to you about it. Ironically, I started by taking the My Utmost for His Highest verse of the day and praying over it without looking at his commentary. That was over 22 years go. Now I’ve done thousands and thousands of these prayers through journaling. In the aggregate, I can certainly see that it has changed my life.
Father, help me to keep disciplining myself to spend this quality time with you. I was talking to someone yesterday about how much time my wife and I spend talking to each other. We spend over an hour every day catching up and talking. We also pray together nearly every day. Those are great things and they make all of the difference in the world in our relationship. I need to do the same with you. Not that I need to spend an hour praying every day (although it probably wouldn’t hurt), but I certainly need to spend an hour every day exposing myself to you in some way. Maybe not all at once, but cumulatively. Praying. Listening to Christian music. Listening to Christian podcasts or the Bible in a Year podcast. I need to make sure my mind is on the things of you every day. That’s the best way for me to hear your Holy Spirit talk to me. That’s the best way to feel you presence and follow the nudging of my heart. That’s the way to expose the soil of my heart to the seeds you might want to be planting that day. Really, God. Thank you for everything. I’m here to meet with you. Won’t you meet with me?
In Jesus’s name and through the grace you extend to me through his life, death and resurrection and I pray,