Matthew 17 tells the story of Jesus taking Peter, James, and John to a mountain, where they witnessed His transfiguration. The Bible says, “his face shone as the sun, and his clothes became white as light.” For a moment, Moses and Elijah were also present. The disciples responded by falling on their faces and worshiping Jesus.
I’m not sure that I ever noticed what happened immediately after this shattering phenomenon, until I read the story again this past week.
But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.
Matthew 17:7-8 (ESV)
As I read these verses, I felt that stillness in my spirit that comes when I recognize an answer from God for a current situation in my life. I realized that these verses spoke directly to two problems I am facing: finding strength for the work God is handing me, and finding meaning through suffering.
This post will focus a bit on finding strength for the task; then in the next one I will talk about finding meaning through suffering.
The current events in our nation have me reeling. Everything from the justification of closing America’s borders to immigrants (with which I strongly disagree) to the promotion of supporting life rather than merely birth (and I couldn’t agree more on that point) is being proclaimed loudly and persistently. While I’m appalled at some of the choices being made, I’m also encouraged to see Christians rising up and being a voice for the Gospel way of living.
Still, the cacophony is overwhelming to me. I feel the need to draw back, to climb my private mountain to pray. I think of the wise words of a pastor who said that the Kingdom of God often works in quiet ways, like seeds being planted in the ground or bread rising in an oven.
I don’t mean by “quietness” that I should be passive. I don’t think I can politely excuse myself from world suffering because I have a family to raise. I definitely don’t think I should wait for a convenient moment to obey God’s call.
After all, passivity never makes problems go away. Raising a nice family so that they can raise their own nice families is futile if the niceness is always neatly contained. And obedience to God is rarely convenient.
Yet, in my effort to serve in specific ways, I must look to Jesus as the author and finisher of my faith (Heb. 12:2). I need to find quietness and peace in His presence. I need to hear His words and gaze on His glory. Otherwise the task is simply too great.
Yesterday when Will left for work, I cried a little, then I turned on some worship music while I folded an enormous jumble of laundry. I heard these words in Beneath the Cross of Jesus: “I take, O cross, thy shadow for my abiding place; I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of His face.”
And that is is what I long for: to see Jesus only, to feel His touch, and to hear Him say, “Have no fear.”
Only then will I find strength for the work that God is calling me to do.