On the Mountaintop – Mark 9:2-8

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.” (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)

Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”

Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.

When was the last time you were on the mountaintop?

I don’t mean literally – though mountaintops are a pretty good place to find God.

I mean spiritually speaking. When was the last time you felt moved to the core? When have you felt as if you could reach out and touch the face of God, or you have heard the still small voice calling you closer?

It doesn’t happen often, does it? Deeply spiritual experiences are, for the most, fleeting moments – if they come at all.

I can’t help but wonder at how this episode in the lives of the disciples must have moved them in powerful, permanent ways. Yet I cannot also help but wonder at the fact that , one by one, even after that experience, they would fall away from God – at least for awhile – when their fears and doubts got the best of them.

It’s good to remember that as the Lenten season approaches. How wonderful it is to have received the promise that one day we can have that incomparable experience of being with God on the mountaintop, if only we don’t fall away. And, how easy it can be, at times, to fall away.

Thank God – literally – for the grace that allows us to come back to Him even when that happens.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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