Mountaintop Moments

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Mountaintop experiences . . . so few and far between. They are the special times we long for, those times when we experience God in fresh, new ways. We travel along life’s dusty roads hoping for just one mountaintop moment. And on occasion, we do find ourselves with God on a high mountain. It’s worth the long wait.

After six days 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.

(Matthew 17:1-2, New International Version)
We meet you on the mountaintop, O God, hoping for a glimpse of your glory. Hoping for a moment sacred and holy. We meet you, having ascended from a mundane existence. We meet you, hoping that your usual silence with us will turn into hearing you speak to us of greater times. We meet you hoping to transcend the ordinary and to find, in your presence, a holier moment of grace.

We linger on the holy mountain, O God, waiting for your transfigured presence, and hoping beyond hope that you will change us, if only for this moment in time. And then we descend into our world, the ordinary place we live, but we are not the same. We are no longer ordinary, because we have experienced you, heart and soul, in a fresh, new way.

We give you thanks, O God, for mountaintop moments.

Amen.

Love Has the Last Word

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My last blog post spoke of being unable to escape adversity. And it is true that we will not get through this life without adversity, no matter how hard we try. The path we walk is steep and winding, leading us forward through all sorts of dangers, toils and snares. The road can be frightening. It can be challenging.

We navigate in a world that is sometimes filled with terror and hate. But the best news for us comes from Bishop Steven Charleston.

The final word to our lives will not be terror or hate. Even if they seem overwhelming now, they will not define us or control us. Other forces are at work, deep forces that move silently among us, drawing us closer against the storm. Whenever human beings face disaster together, whatever that peril may be, our ancient instinct for compassion rises up to unite us in common cause. We do not shatter beneath the blows. We only grow stronger. No, fear and hate will never have the last word. Love will.

There is no better news than that!

I love the hymn Amazing Love. How Can it Be. The words of the fourth stanza give me new and fresh hope.

Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Amazing love, how can it be that Thou, my God, should die for me?

Love has the last word.

On to the Land of Promise

 

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Richland Creek Wilderness

Have you ever wandered in a wilderness? I have certainly felt at times as if I was wandering in a wilderness . . . abandoned, confused, disoriented.

The Bible tells the story of the children of Israel wandering in the wilderness for a very long time. We find one reference to that story in Numbers 32:13.

The LORD’s anger burned against Israel and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until the whole generation of those who had done evil in his sight was gone.

Certainly no wilderness wandering that I have experienced has been that long and grueling. Yet I do know about a personal wilderness journey. I know how lonely it feels, how forsaken. I know that it seems to go on forever with no end in sight. I know that such wilderness journeys can happen when one is ill, isolated, disheartened, grieving or simply feeling empty.

Numbers concludes with the Israelites coming to the end of the long, hard journey. They are now standing on the Plains of Moab, just across the river from the promised land. This is where Moses gives his final commission to the people. And in the next book, Deuteronomy, the end of the wandering in the wilderness becomes a reality.

Look, he has placed the land in front of you! Go up, take possession of it, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, said to do. Do not be afraid or discouraged!”  – Deuteronomy 1:21

And that’s the good word we need to hear. Our wandering is over. God has walked beside us through whatever wilderness we travelled. We are free to move into our own land of promise where life is no longer filled with fear and discouragement. The magic, though, is this: coming out of the wilderness is our choice. God has the land of promise ready for us. We need only to walk into it with courage and fresh hope.