An Unforgettable Experience

Luke 9:28, “Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray.

I think I already know the answer to my question but I’m going to ask anyway. In fact, I am going to make an assumption and declare that your answer will be “yes.” Honestly, it’s hard to imagine anyone saying “no.” What that’s? Oh yeah, the question. Here you go…have you ever ridden a roller coaster? See, I told you the answer would be “yes.” (Okay, okay, I see you with your hand raised way in the back there. Let me guess. You have never been on a roller coaster? That’s alright. The analogy will still work just fine. Just use your imagination.) As you have probably deduced by now I want to talk about roller coasters for just a minute today.

I still remember my first roller coaster ride. My family had just moved to Georgia. I was probably 10 years old at the time, just the perfect age for a trip to Six Flags. My first reaction at seeing the Great American Scream Machine was one of admiration. Not a trace of fear. I looked up at my father and told him without any hesitation that I wanted to ride that one, the great big one with the high hills and sharp turns. We got in line and after waiting our turn we boarded the ride for what would prove to be a truly unforgettable experience for me. As the ride began to move forward I was ecstatic. My sense of anticipation rose as the line of cars slowly began to creep up that first monstrous hill. I was full of courage. I was bold with my arms raised up high in the air. I was fearless. I…was…an…idiot. I had no idea what was about to happen.

As we crested the top of the first hill two things happened simultaneously. First of all, the ride took an immediate downward plunge at what seemed to me to be a rate in excess of the speed of light. Secondly, I somehow mananged to squirm out from under the safety bar and seat belt in order to bury my head between my knees. I spent the entire rest of the ride in that position, eyes closed tight, my stomach firmly lodged about halfway up my throat, desperately trying to keep from wetting my pants. My father still jokes to this day about that ride, about how he boarded the roller coaster with his 10-year-old son and exited with a 10-year-old daughter. Yeah. That’s right. I screamed like a little girl. The entire time. Like I said…unforgettable. It would be years before I would make another attempt to ride a roller coaster.

Now, I have another question for you. And once again, I think I already know the answer. But I’m still going to ask anyway. Have you ever ridden the spiritual roller coaster of faith? Not sure what I mean? Let me explain from my own personal experience. One minute I am slowly, steadily climbing, making progress to the summit of a new level of faith. Next thing I know the bottom has fallen out from under me and I am crashing toward the bottom. Then it’s back up. Then it’s back down. Up. Down. Up. Down. One minute it’s all good, it’s all God. The next minute it’s, “Oh goodness me! Oh God!” One day high and the next day low. Happy. Sad. Peaceful. Confused. Confident. Fearful. Trusting. Worried. Victorious. Defeated. Excited. Apathetic. Up and down. Over and over and over again. So often I just want to bury my head between my knees and scream!!! Have you ever been on that ride? Better yet, how would you like to get off once and for all? How would you like to experience that life the Bible speaks about when Jesus Himself said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly?”

Beginning today we are going to spend the next couple of weeks taking a closer look at the events surrounding what we more commonly refer to as the Transfiguration. In Luke 9 Jesus took 3 of His disciples up on the mountain top for an unforgettable experience. Contained within this one chapter are some very important principles that will help each of us get off the roller coaster of faith once and for all. It’s not a recipe. It’s not a formula. And it’s certainly not a checklist. But we will gain some guidelines that will help bring stability to our Christian walk. What the disciples would experience on the mountain top can become our daily reality. Faith doesn’t have to be a roller coaster. My hope and prayer is that in the days ahead God will do a work in each of us, particulary myself, that brings us to a place where we can get off the ride and start living the walk of an unforgettable experience and relationship with our God. Alright, let’s get ready. I think the ride is about to begin…