Matthew 17: 1-9…The Transfiguration – “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. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. 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.’ While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my son, whom I love, with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!’ When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But, Jesus came and touched them. ‘Get up,’ he said. ‘Don’t be afraid.’ When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus. As they were coming back down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, ‘Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.’ “
High places hold great spiritual significance. Moses spotted the burning bush high upon God’s mountain, and there he met him. Up high is where God gave Moses his law. Up high is where God showed Moses the land that was promised, but didn’t allow him to go. Jesus in the gospel, often retreats “to the mountains” for reflection and prayer. And as noted in the gospel story above, up high on the mountain is where Jesus took his selected friends to show them who he really was. To show them Moses…Elijah…alive. This always astounds me about Peter. How, after having seen Jesus transform in front of your very eyes, and to see Moses and Elijah standing there chatting up the Lord, could he have possibly had any doubt remaining within him? Yet…he still did. He denied him 3 times at the critical moment. Peter, having seen all that he did, and having been hand appointed by Jesus as the rock of his church, still struggled with faith. Consider that compared with your own situation. You’ve had no such experiences…only the stories in God’s enduring word, and the ever present miracles of life and creation to convince you. Stop beating yourself up for having doubts. But believe, you must.
Today, I’m going high up on the mountain in real time. The image above was taken by me earlier this morning at about 7,500 ft at my lodging location in Utah. On a snowmobile, I’ll be riding into the wilderness up to about 10,000 ft. I’ve done this before in Colorado and Wyoming. It’s a transforming experience in itself. A friend earlier this morning asked if you feel closer to God up here? Of course. How could you not? When you’re in the wilderness of deep silent snow, magnificent creation unspoiled by human hands, and perhaps a moose or some other wildlife briefly joining you…it’s a spiritual moment of deep connection with the maker. I think because the deep layers of Satan’s delusions are filtered up here. It’s not out of his reach, but not where his destruction is concentrated, because there are no masses of humanity up here…Just creation – life. So our souls get a “strong signal” when we are up high, as our technological human made signals weaken or disappear. No cell service where I’m going today.
Times like these are some of my favorites in my life. I’ve written extensively on this blog of my time on the mountain with God. I read something the other day that said (paraphrasing)…”God’s path is uphill so it leads us to him, and not downhill to the pit of destruction.” That made sense to me. When I was trudging up Mt. Pisgah I could hardly breathe. It was very difficult for my lungs so badly abused in my young life. That’s life. The right way is so hard to take. Coming back down that day was a joyful breeze. I was giddy. The path in the wrong direction is always made easy for us. This will be hard for me today too…my lungs are not at home at 10,000 feet. They aren’t at home at the 7,500 feet I type this from. My chest is tight. Breathing labored. I normally live pretty much at sea level. In the mass of humanity. My body showing the wear and tear of sin. Nowhere near the glowing face of Christ shown to Peter and the boys. Just a man I am seeking my Savior to serve and know him. God brought me up here for some reason. My wife is being honored, but I’m here too for a purpose. To learn it…I shall go up on the mountain.