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His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them. And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus … And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!”Mark 9:
Many years back, when Dave worked the graveyard shift at Scott Paper Company, he used to take his lunch hour and go up to the roof to pray. It was during one of those middle-of-the-night meetings when he felt the certainty that God was calling him into the ministry.
I knew he’d heard correctly, and I knew he’d be a wonderful pastor. But I felt genuine fear for myself, because the task seemed much bigger than my abilities. What if the women expected more from me than I could provide? What if I had no answers to their questions? I didn’t fit the mold, and I feared that I would fail the Lord, the people He brought us, and Dave.
Back then I liked to browse at the Christian bookstore (because back then, Christian bookstores had more Bibles than coffee mugs). So one afternoon, I drove my pensive mood to the bookstore and started rifling through the books. I don’t know if I was looking for a diversion or if I truly believed I’d find a book that could address my inadequacies, but after about ten minutes, the title of one book caught my attention. It was The Hidden Art of Homemaking, by Edith Schaeffer. I skimmed the table of contents and then looked through a few random chapters, and while I was doing so, an odd plan began to form itself. If I could learn to do all of that really well—-all of the homemaking arts Edith so sweetly described—-I’d at least have something to give the women when they came seeking wisdom. “Oh, that?” I’d say. “Well, I don’t know much about that,but watch this!” And when they saw me turn a napkin into a swan with three deft flips of my wrist, they’d be so enamored by my skill that they’d forgive my lack of wisdom.
When I arrived back home, I discovered Dave had taken Zac somewhere, so I had the house to myself. So I made a cup of tea and sat down with my new book. Anxious to get to the practical stuff, I skipped chapter one (entitled, God, the First Artist) and went straight to the chapter on interior decorating. But after only a few words, I felt an urging to go back to the first chapter. I obliged—-momentarily. The chapter starts out with a discussion on the nature of art, and then proclaims that God is the only Artist whose work is perfect. Good stuff, I thought, as I flipped forward again to chapter five. But again the urging came, only this time it was stronger. So again I went back. I read the first sentence, and the second, and then I kept on reading.
And somewhere in Edith’s description of God’s artistry, my heart locked with hers, and my heartbeat quickened. I couldn’t take her words in fast enough; couldn’t wait for her to finish one line so she could tell me another. She described the handiwork of the Creator:
Think of the mobiles of God, the Artist, brought forth by the wind that He created. The wind, blowing through in the trees, swaying the grass, bending a field of wheat as a ballet, rising again, bending again. The spray of the ocean, wild waves against rocks bringing forth a curve of spray … Have you considered the light shows that God created? Watch the moon come up over the mountain, as first the light in the sky softens the dark, and then a copper arc appears and quickly changes into an enormous ball … look at the streaks of lightning that split the black sky with zigzag patterns, or gasp over a northern light display. Watch a falling star cut through a night sky, and then look down over a cliff to the white foam bright in moonlight washing the rocks …Edith Schaeffer, The Hidden Art of Homemaking
And in a flash, any awareness I had of the physical world fell away. All my anxieties fled, and my questions evaporated. Before I even realized what I was doing, I dropped the book and fell facedown on the floor, as low as I could get, and I wept. He had parted the sky and shown me one brief, magnificent glimpse and I saw it all—His power, His beauty, and the awesomeness of His imagination. In the light of His presence, every other thing faded away. Nothing mattered but Him, and all I could do was cry, and worship.
I don’t have any idea how long I stayed in that position of worship, but when I sat back up, I was changed. I was more aware than ever that in my flesh, I was inadequate for the days ahead. But it didn’t matter anymore. I wouldn’t have all the answers the women brought to me—but I could point them to God, and share my awe. And I did.
Dave was ordained for his ministry on a sunny Sunday morning in front of our excited church family when two other pastors laid hands on him and prayed. But I received my ordination in a quiet house, alone but for the God who had brought me a merciful—and life changing—revelation.
And with that same mercy, God brought the revelation of His glory to Peter, James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration. From one moment to the next, their vision of Jesus changed. They knew He was the Christ, but they had not yet seen His glory. And then … they did.
Spurgeon said this of that flash of glory: “This was not a new miracle, but the temporary pause of an ongoing miracle. The real miracle was that Jesus, most of the time, could keep from displaying His glory. “For Christ to be glorious was almost a less matter than for him to restrain or hide his glory. It is forever his glory that he concealed his glory; and that, though he was rich, for our sakes he became poor.” (Spurgeon)
Like all our futures, theirs was clouded in shadows. They knew hard things were coming; Jesus had already told them He would die. What did that mean? What would become of them? Did that mean defeat for the One they followed?
But when the glory of His appearance filled their eyes and the thunder of God’s voice filled their ears, it no longer mattered.
I like to think of the private talks they had about what they’d witnessed. Did one point out that the appearances of Moses and Elijah proved life after death? Did they realize that they’d been fellowshiping with the Lamb, but had seen the Lion and heard His roar for just a split second?
You can go on the fumes of such a revelation for the rest of your life. But I’m praying for more.