Failing Followers: stagnant in the sacred {Blogging through the Bible} | The Speckled Goat: Failing Followers: stagnant in the sacred {Blogging through the Bible}


Failing Followers: stagnant in the sacred {Blogging through the Bible}

gospel of Mark Christian devotion about the transfiguration

I was probably about ten on one particular trip home from Grandma's.

My grandparents lived more than two hours away, which, at ten, felt like an eternity. We were getting back late in the evening, our van quiet with my sleeping sisters, and from my seat in the middle of the van, I felt cozy, warm, secure. I was struck by an overwhelming sense of contentment, and as we pulled into our neighborhood, I piped up and asked, to my parents' confusion-- "Can we drive around for a little longer?"

"After six days, Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.  

Peter said to Jesus, 'Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters- one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.'" -Mark 9:2-5

I don't know that I should really play favorites... but in the Gospels, Peter is my favorite disciple. He's messy, speaks his mind, has a temper, makes big claims... and I so, so identify with him.

And so when Jesus leads James, John, and Peter to a mountain and reveals his glory, I think I understand Peter's reaction.

We should stay here for a while. Let's build shelters!

Always practical, our boy Peter has a plan so that they can stay right where they are for an indefinite amount of time. I'm surprised he doesn't break out a schedule for meal planning. He is watching this amazing thing happening right in front of him, he's seeing the fathers of his faith having a conversation with his mentor, he's blinded by the glory and majesty of who Christ is...

and so he figures they should stay right there.

We understand, don't we?

In Christian outdoor ministry, we talk about a "mountaintop experience." When a kid attends camp or a retreat and is built up in the excitement and intensity of the week or weekend, it's easy to get wrapped up in it. But what happens when camp is over? Going back down the "mountain" can be a real let down, a real blow to a kid's newfound faith. And so, many kids? They just want to stay at camp.

In fact, when I worked at a Bible Camp, there were typically two times a camper might cry-- when their parent dropped them off, and when their parent came to pick them up again.

I don't know that there's anything wrong with the desire to stay in the sacred.

I think we're built to long for beauty and glory, and finding that in the person of Jesus is exactly what God wants for us. There's a reason people linger at cathedrals. There is usually a bitter-sweetness when my time in dedicated, focused prayer has to come to a close. When we find where our souls are meant to be, we want to stay there. 

And obviously, there's something to be said about the need to abide. We need to be connected with our source- it's a daily need to be filled and filled and filled again.

The trouble is, life gets in the way. There are nap schedules and work responsibilities, pencils to sharpen, diapers to change, memos to send, meals to prepare, books to read, dishes to wash, sidewalks to shovel, essays to write, planes to catch. Oh, wouldn't it be so much nicer to just build some shelters around the sacred in our lives and just stay right there? 

But remember the three purposes of disciples?

To be with him 
To teach 
To heal

I think that many of us get stuck on the first one.

I know I do.

Being with Jesus- that focused time spent in the Word, in prayer-- for Peter, on the mountain-- is exactly what my soul longs for. I need it. I need to be in the presence of God like I need food. And I just want to build a couple shelters and stay right there, camped firmly in this safe, sacred space.

I think it's interesting that Peter's idea isn't addressed. Jesus doesn't say anything about the shelter building. He doesn't tell Peter that it's a dumb plan or that he's misguided-- and I think that's because Jesus knows. He knows Peter's heart, the imprint of the experience on the souls of the disciples. They want to stay right there. Because it's home.

This is where the tension of Christianity comes in, once again.

We are strangers traveling through this dark land--  here on earth, we are not home. There's something within us that longs for heaven, even while we're here. We want to stay in the sacred.

And someday, we will.

But our purposes here on this earth won't be fulfilled if we build shelters on the mountaintop. And maybe our spiritual growth may be stunted if we don't live out the next two purposes of discipleship.

As much as we want to stay in the miraculous, the glorious, the sacred- we cannot allow ourselves to get stuck there. We're failing followers when we grow stagnant in the sacred.

We have to

We have to step out, do the work, show the love, speak the truth, bring redemption, make the peace... it's what we're called to do while we're here on this earth. Following Jesus means doing discipleship.

But we don't go alone. 

Peter, James, and John walked down from the mountaintop with Jesus right beside them. We walk down from our mountaintops with the Holy Spirit inside of us.

Every single day, day in and day out, we are living with holiness burning inside of us.

We don't have to stay in the middle of a miracle because we are the miracle. We bring the sacred with us wherever we go.

We are sent to do the work that God has called us to, not fearing failure or buckling under pressure or avoiding truth, and not becoming stagnant in the sacred.

Where do you find yourself stagnant?

Do you find yourself wishing every day could be Sunday? Does your faith feel flat after coming down from a mountaintop? Do you focus more on seeking the sacred than on bringing the sacred into the mundane moments of your days? How do you incorporate the glory of who Christ is in the everyday expression of who you are?

Let's remember that we are ones in whom Christ dwells, and we live in the unshakable Kingdom of God. We bring the sacred to the world, we carry it within us daily, even at 10:30 on Monday morning after the second cup of coffee hasn't quite reached the bloodstream. Even in traffic on Wednesday afternoon. Even when that conference call doesn't go as planned. Even when scrubbing the stove top after a spaghetti sauce disaster.

And so I'm asking that God would take my fumbling and my failure and teach me to follow better. To treasure the quiet moments of communion with Him, and to seek His presence in the not-so-quiet moments of my very normal noisy days. I'm asking that He'd teach me to make every day, every minute a sacred experience. To balance abiding with doing- lingering with living- staying with going. And to make sure that spending time in the sacred makes me fruitful, not stagnant.

...   ...   ...

This post is part of the Blogging through the Bible link up!

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1 comment :

  1. I pinned, Stumbled, and scheduled a tweet. As always, this is an excellent post! In our Hebrews Bible study, the teacher said that in Christianity, stagnant = going backwards because we never really stay in one spot in our faith. If we aren't growing, then we are at least somewhat declining. That made the dangers of remaining stagnant all the more real to me when I realized that being stagnant in my relationship with God does not mean staying still - it means going the wrong way.