Saturday, February 21, 2004

Long for the Mountain, but Live in the Valley

Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings..."

You gotta love Peter. He is so...well...human! Faced with a wondrous mystical experience on the mountaintop, he sees no reason to let it end.

That's how it is with mountaintop experiences. The euphoria is so intense, we never want it to stop.

But most of us don't live on the mountain. Eventually, we have to return to the valley.

Our time on the mountain may encourage us to persevere in our quest for the illusive "something more." Hope is a precious gift. But is it a personal gift? Is it given for us alone?

I sometimes encounter Christians who see their calling to be much like a lifeguard who notices someone out in the ocean trying to drown themselves and shouts from the beach, "Hey! Come out of that water before you drown!" Is that what is needed? They know they are drowning; that's what they are trying to do. Maybe it would be more helpful to abandon the safety of the beach, swim out to the person, and give them a reason to swim back to shore.

Of course, one had better know how to swim, and the temperment of the ocean, before attempting such a rescue mission. Observation from the beach can only teach you so much. Eventually, you have to get wet.

To use another analogy, is our mission to stand in the light and shout to those who are lost in the darkness, "Come into the light!" Or, are we called to enter the darkness, trusting that the light of Christ goes with us, and guide those who are lost into the Light? If this is our calling, we had better know that darkness well. The fear, rage, and hopelessness we encounter cannot be met with compassion unless we know well those same places within ourselves.

Jesus could have remained on the mountain. But he chose to return to the valley; to laugh and cry with those seen as unworthy, or even lost. He chose to offer healing to the broken, hope to the rejected, and eternal life to those willing to risk all for love.

I love Peter. But I think I'll follow Jesus back down the mountain.

As we once again enter the valley, may we proclaim the Good News of the healing power of God's love to all whom we encounter; "Rejoice! The Kingdom of God is at hand!"


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