Sunday, January 3, 2010

No Camping Here

The art of photography is, in a sense, an innate desire within us to stop time--to capture some place, some person, some experience we simply want to remember or, in some cases, don't want to leave behind.

It could be a child's smile, a sunset spent with one's beloved, a wrinkled face full of laughter, or a simple landscape of a lazy summer day. We've all had those experiences that warm our souls, causing our hearts to almost will the minutes to creep slower so we can camp out forever in the moment.

And then there are those treasured moments not found in any photo but stored up in our memories. Perhaps those fond memories that remain alive sans photo are truly the ones our hearts desired to remain in forever.

I have innumerable memories of mountain-top experiences where I didn't want to leave. I wanted to stay and soak up the warmth, the love, the feeling of completeness. And as you might guess, I have found most of those experiences in worshiping my Jesus.

An unusually uplifting church worship service. A women's conference where the spirit of fellowship with other believers permeated the room. A quiet moment in personal Bible study where I could feel God's Word speaking directly to my circumstances. An empowering old hymn sung with great emotion to an audience of pine trees.

In those moments, I could feel Jesus speaking directly to me. I could literally feel Him near.

And I didn't want to leave.

The same thing happened to three of Jesus' disciples on a literal mountain. Scripture says, "Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus" (Matt. 17:1-4).

Imagine being one of the chosen three in this intimate time with the Lord. Then imagine not only being in the presence of a flesh-encased Jesus, but being (for the first time) in the fullness of His glory.

I wouldn't want to leave. Neither did Peter: "Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah" (v. 4).

I understand this desire--to just permanently camp out in Jesus' presence without giving another thought to the evil, sin-ridden world that surrounds me. It's so much easier to keep my focus solely on God when I sit and listen as Jesus speaks, when I shut out the world so I can simply fall at His feet like the angels in Isaiah and sing "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory" (Is. 6:3).

But Jesus didn't say, "Yes Peter; good idea. Let's stay up here forever."

No. After God the Father spoke to them in a cloud, they all descended from the heavenly glory found on the mountain and immediately came face to face with the horrors of hell.

Imagine the disciples' fullness, the kind of electrifying soul-filling excitement only found when one has met with God. Then, the shocking slap-in-the-face contrast of pure evil as they walked into the always-waiting crowd where a man asked Jesus to heal his demon-possessed son.

Jesus didn't say, "Ugh! You're ruining the moment!!"

Instead, he said, "'Bring the boy here to me.' Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment" (v. 17b-18).

This is how Christ means us to live.

He will meet with us. He will reveal Himself to us...but not so we can permanently camp out in His glory. God does not intend for us to hoard His glory all to ourselves.

To do so is definitely tempting. But how else will a lost and dying world learn of Jesus if you and I spend a lifetime sitting complacently atop the mountain basking in Jesus' radiance?

Jesus' plan was to bring His glory down to the lost crowds of people below.

How can we do any different than follow the example set by our Lord and Savior?

1 comment:

  1. I love those special times with Jesus. My heart sometimes feels as if it might burst with joy because His presence is so rich and real.

    You have so beautifully stated truth. It is hard to let go of those moments, but we must do so to please and obey our Father in heaven.

    My soul is stirred, and my heart will contemplate this precious post for some time to come. Thank you, dear friend.