Jason Taylor, Youth and Worship Pastor at First Baptist Church in Joplin, brought the devo at today’s NoonDay lunch at the BSU from Mark 9:1-8. Here’s a summary of his message:
There was a time, scripture tells us, when Jesus took three of his disciples atop a mountain and there was transfigured. It says that his clothes, “became radiant and exceeding white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them.” It was a unique moment in his ministry. He spoke with a pair of famous Old Testament prophets who appeared as if by magic, and when one of the disciples was bold enough to say something, a voice from heaven reminds him that this is not his moment, but Jesus’. It is the epitome of a “mountaintop experience.” Ironically, however, Jesus tells the three not to speak of the incident to anyone. Weird, huh?
We’ve all had those mountaintop experiences, and our natural reaction is, of course, to share them, but here’s Jesus telling his most trusted companions to keep it to themselves. Perhaps that’s because Jesus knew what we often struggle to comprehend, that life isn’t lived on top of the mountain. More often than not it’s lived in the valleys. And sure enough, it wouldn’t be long before the same men who were so excited to see the Transfiguration were themselves slogging through a valley of doubt, denial and confusion as Jesus walked through the pain and suffering that ultimately lead to his death by crucifixion.
Perhaps you’ve come down from the mountaintop yourself recently. You were on a genuine high at a camp or retreat, or maybe just had an exceptional experience with God on a mission trip or at church, but then you came home. You came down. You saw the passion of the moment begin to fade and you slid back into familiar routines. Now you’re wrestling with the whole idea of it all. Was it real? How could it be? Why, if it was, have I gone back to my old self? My old struggles? My own failures and sin?
Great questions. Truly. And probably not far from what the disciples were asking themselves as they essentially abandoned and denied knowing Jesus during His arrest, trial and execution. What just happened?!
The answer is, we don’t always know. What we do know is that you can’t wrestle with someone who isn’t close by. That’s the nature of wrestling; it’s a close grapple. So if you are wrestling with God, feeling like he’s far away, keep that in mind. He’s closer than you think, and He loves you very much.