In Matthew 17, the story of the transfiguration of Jesus is told. It goes something like this: Jesus and his inner circle went on a mountain top retreat. While there, Peter, James & John witnessed the glorified Christ as Jesus appeared before them in his throne room brilliance. His blinding illuminessense must have made quite an impression on these guys.
And then it got better. Some rock stars of the Jewish faith appeared with Jesus: Moses and Elijah. Moses had been dead for 1,680 years; Elijah for 1,000 years. I guess they weren't really dead at all -- they were with God! Their eternity was just interrupted with a brief field trip to time.
And then Peter interrupts this holy moment with this: "It's good to be here! Let's stay here. I'll put up three tabernacles."
But before Peter could unpack the canvas, God himself interrupted saying: "This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him." Terrified, the guys fell flat on their faces until the reassuring hand of Jesus touched them. When they looked up, all they saw was Jesus.
It's the next part of the story that intrigues me the most. In verse 9, it says: "As they were coming down the mountain..." Peter and the boys wanted to stay there. It was a special and sacred space. But Jesus led them off the mountain and back to the work of building God's kingdom.
We don't want to leave those special times and places. It's like leaving summer camp. The first time I went to camp, I found an acceptance, friendship, and Christian community like I had never known. I wanted to stay there forever. It felt good. It felt safe. And when the future is so uncertain, it's natural to want to stay in that special place.
But then Jesus leads us off that mountain.
In Galatians 5:25, Paul wrote this: "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." The church is not a stale, inanimate institution. It is a living thing -- a body -- and it is filled with God's Spirit. The prophet Isaiah recorded these words from God: "Whether you turn to the right or the left, I will be the Voice behind you saying 'This is the way; walk in it'."
The church must continually move on down the mountain, keeping in step with the Spirit, continuing the work of Jesus for each generation. And since it is God leading us, we have nothing to fear about tomorrow.
There is a map on display at the British Museum in London. It's an old mariner's chart from 1525 which outlines the North American coastline. The cartographer wrote some curious notes on the map in areas not yet explored. He wrote: "Here be giants", "here be fiery scorpions", and "here be dragons". Eventually, the map came into the possession of Sir John Franklin, a British explorer in the early 1800's, who scratched out the fearful inscriptions with one of his own: "Here is God".
Corrie Ten Boom said, "Never trust an unknown future to a known God."
Let's have the faith to trust and follow as we keep in step with God's Spirit.