CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter
Yesterday, August 17, at the end of the CIW titled Walking Back to the Reset Time, I said that today I would reflect on what I then called “the most wonderful time of my life” as a transfiguration moment.
I said that orientation week of my frosh year in university was the most wonderful time of my life. It seemed like that at the time, and it still carries that aura for me. It was awful. It was confusing. But it was wonderful.
Because it was the freest moment of my life, the most-free I had ever been. At least, it seemed that way. It was the only time in my life I had been free of responsibility.
For a lot of reasons, my family was quite poor. I was a major bread-winner, sometimes the major breadwinner, from the time I was a young teen. I dreamed of going to college, but knew it was probably just a dream. There were far-sighted people, though, at the time and in years before, who knew that a society was best if everybody had a chance to learn how to contribute to it. They established tax supported universities and endowed scholarships, so there I was at college, away from the responsibilities that had always consumed me before. Free.
But it was a transfiguration moment.
Remember the story of how Jesus took Peter and James and John up onto the mountain? The heavens opened, and Moses and Elijah, the two main figures in Hebrew faith, joined them. They were in heady company! [Matthew 17:1-13.] It’s called the transfiguration story, because Jesus was “transfigured before them.” He wasn’t just their pal from Galilee anymore. He was at least on a par with Moses and Elijah.
So Peter said, “Hey, this is great. Let’s just stay up here. I can build some little houses for shelter and we can just hang out with Mo and Lije. No more nights when the fish won’t bite. No mother mothers-in-law living with you and getting sick. No more being put on the spot by people who claim I’m one of the bad guys because I hang out with you, Jesus. Just up here on the mountain forever, without a care.” [This is from the SAT Bible, Slightly Amplified Translation.]
Jesus said, “No. Being up here, palling with the elite, free of responsibilities, all that is great. But we came up here only so we could go back down there again, because at the bottom, not at the top, is where the hurt is, so that is where the real freedom is.”
The real transfiguration was not from being just a commoner to being among the elite, but moving from a freedom in self to a freedom in obedience. There is a freedom in obedience that goes far beyond the absence of responsibility, just living on the mountain top with no cares.
I’ve learned that in many ways over the years. I also suspect that if Jesus had lived as long as I have, from time to time he would have gone back up that mountain, not to stay, but to get refreshed, to get transfigured, so that he could live anew, each time he came back down, the life of freedom in obedience to God.
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