By Pastor Chad Adelmund Church of Promise, Buckingham
We Can’t Stay Here – Luke 9:28-43
In a Scripture passage, Jesus takes Peter, James and John up on a mountain to pray. Just before this Jesus told them, “I assure you that some standing here won’t die before they see God’s kingdom.” Well, they didn’t have to wait long, because as Jesus was praying “the appearance of his face changed and his clothes flashed white like lightening.” Then Moses and Elijah appeared and the Presence of God came to them in a cloud.
This is such an amazing experience. But at the bottom of this same mountain the other nine disciples are fighting Satan, attempting to cast a demon out of a child as the crowd and the boy’s father watch in fearful anticipation. But they cannot do it and they need Jesus to come back down! Peter is not thinking about anything that’s going on in the valley because he is trying to extend their stay on the Mountain!
“What a minute,” he shouts desperately. “It’s good that we’re here. We should construct three shelters, one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
There are some dramatic contrasts here in this scripture–we have the mountaintop experience with Jesus, Moses and Elijah- The very presence of God and the Light of Heaven! And then the dark sin filled valley below, a demon-possessed boy and a desperate father praying someone can help his son! Two opposite worlds, two different realities, two places that we as Christians live in every moment of every day.
This got me thinking about the different places we as Christians set up tents, or our hiding places? Sometimes it’s in a church- we hear and sometimes respond to His Spirit there. But we also set up tents in places that are not good for us- in addiction, in an unhealthy relationship, in the loss of a loved one.
Instead of focusing on the mountain top, we need to start in the valley and look up. For those who have lost a loved one, Christmas was different this year because of the sense of loss. For some, Christmas can be a valley.
I can’t say I know what it’s like to lose a child, sibling, spouse or parent, and I’m not saying “that’s long enough” because we all grieve in different ways. But, we do need to take steps, even small ones, to move forward so we don’t get stuck in the valley.
When someone we love passes from this life, especially when it’s sudden and unexpected, it’s the deepest human pain we experience. We want to hold onto their memory and the times we had with them. I’ve seen so many people set up a tent here in this place because before I knew Jesus, I did the same thing.
Jesus tells us in Mathew 22:37: The First and Greatest Commandment. The Most Important Commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. The Second Commandment is like the first, not as important, but like it. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
It’s why Jesus says to put God first in all things, above everything and everyone! He needs to be the first place we run to, the first place we hide in times of trouble, the one we give our best to, the one we love, trust, rely and give to first financially. It’s not a Burdon or punishment or payment. Instead, it allows us to put everything in the right perspective, the right priority.
Refuge is a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble. When we put Jesus first in everything, He is the first place we go from danger, trouble, pain, loss, attacks by the enemy, temptation, and sin.
Sometimes we make people our sanctuary. We run to a person when things get hard, and when that person leaves we don’t know where to go. As hard as it is to say, our physical life is temporary. And the people we love are only here temporarily.
How many of us are able to put Jesus first in everything? I hear people say “Family first,” or “Family above everything.” I don’t think we understand how dangerous this is. Yes, of course, our spouses, children and our family should be a top priority. But Jesus needs to be the top priority!
If you put your spouse ahead of Jesus, your trust, faith and love in them, and they break that trust or leave, you lose everything. You don’t know where to go, and you can stay stuck there. If your kids are everything, or your life revolves around them, what happens when they leave? You are lost and open to deep depression and fear. You can’t lose Jesus, He is always with You, He is our refuge and strength.
Where do you hide when it gets hard? We have to set up our hiding place in advance. I’m running to the place where there’s real protection, not the illusion of protection in a place that only seems safe. Jesus is the first and only place we should hide!
Where are you hiding?