Spiritual Rumination by Julia Phillips

“And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother and brought them up into a high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them: and His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light. And behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elijah talking with Him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord it is good for us to be here: if Thou will, let us make here three tabernacles; one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah. While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.”

Matthew 17:1-6

 

God’s patience with His children always amazes me. Try to put yourself in the disciple’s shoes. They walk up to a mountain top — no small feat in itself — as they are standing there catching their breath, suddenly Jesus was transfigured before their eyes. If that wasn’t enough, suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared next to them. I might have fainted. 

Peter’s personality kicked in immediately. At first as he was witnessing a supernatural, miraculous event, what was his reaction? “I don’t ever want to leave here. It will not get better than this! Let’s build three churches right on this very spot. I don’t want this to ever end.” But then upon hearing the mighty voice of God out of the cloud, all three fell on their faces, terrified.

I personally believe God was replying to Peter’s grand idea of staying there forever. He wanted Peter to stop talking and listen. God wanted to impart something eternal in the disciples, not a few more buildings. Why? Because them remaining in that amazing moment in time was not going to do a thing for the multitude of hurting people at the base of the mountain. 

I admit I have been guilty of this. In my time with the Lord, I talk way too much. I need to work on listening. Listening to His still small voice, and listening to His plan and purpose for something I have or am experiencing, rather than immediately thinking I know what is coming next. Jesus was leading His disciples somewhere, but they were so engrossed with their own conclusions they could not hear Him. God had to override them, stop Peter from ordering concrete, and declare, “This is My Son. Hear Him.”

I want a hearing ear. I want God to lead my life. If He is not leading, I have no power. I am merely on my own, busying myself with building my latest tabernacle from my most recent experience. My past experience — all I have left to talk about at that point are former experiences or monuments of old victories. Why is it that it is so difficult for us to just be quiet and listen?

Often, we cannot hear the voice of God because just like Peter, we are still leaning on our own strength and understanding. It reminds me of another experience with Peter. 

When Jesus told Peter he could not follow where He was going at the time, Peter immediately “corrected” Jesus. Peter told the Lord of Lords He was mistaken. He assured Jesus he would follow wherever He went — and even give his life if necessary. Peter was still plumb full of himself, full of his own ideas, wisdom, and strength. So, God had to bring Peter to the end of himself. To a place where he had nothing left to say. After Peter denied Jesus three times, all he could do was weep bitterly. All his boasting came to an end. Peter then began to see the bigger picture. He was ready to hear, listen, and be used by God in unbelievable ways.

There is another reason some people or churches begin to stagnate and experience deep frustration or disappointment. They are unwilling to put away old things and embrace what is new. I do not mean popular; I mean His will. God is not only taking us out of where we used to be, He is bringing us into where He would have us go. We must be able and willing to stop trying to spiritually dine on old experiences — even comforts. What God has for us is even greater.

Jesus could have decided to remain on the mountaintop with Moses and Elijah. But at the bottom of the mountain was a father crying out for his demon-possessed child who was being destroyed by the powers that had hold of him. 

Think about what is happening to our children and grandchildren. Unmitigated confusion, anger, and a sense of hopelessness. They will never survive and thrive from watching and listening to us tell our old experiences, no matter how wonderful they were at the time. God wants to bring us out of our historical experiences straight into spiritual need, personally and corporately. I want to walk forward to the healing I need, but also keep walking toward the healing someone else needs. We have a choice. Camp where we have been and try to bring the leeks and onions of our past, or press forward to apprehend what we have been apprehended for in Christ Jesus.

Do you feel broken? Have you hit a brick wall? Don’t curse it. You may discover you are finally ready to stop, listen, and truly hear the voice of God in your life. He will give you light in darkness, water in seasons of drought, and strength and purpose when things appear to be crumbling around you. And you will function in His Body as part of God’s answer to the great mountain of spiritual need we see in our nation and earth today. Creation itself is groaning in travail for the manifestation of the sons and daughters of God, of which you are one. 

Are you ready to forget those things that are behind and press towards those things that are before you? I know I am. I am longing to hear His voice in such a way that I might hear in a way such as Ananias in Acts 9:11, “Stop what you are doing. Go now to the street called Nistler. You will see a red house, and inside you will meet a family who has been praying.” Selah.

Ruminate on that.