According to the Church’s calendar, this Sunday is Transfiguration Sunday. It is the day when we remember how Jesus took His disciples up to the top of a very high mountain and was transfigured before them. Through this transfiguration, the disciples began to see Jesus as he really was for the first time. They began to see Him in all of His glory, majesty and power.
Thinking about that this week, I was reminded of an experience I had some years ago. I had gone with a group to the Holy Land. We were visiting the traditional site of the Mount of Transfiguration. It is a beautiful site. From the top of the mountain, you can see for miles. To one side there are rich, lush valleys. If you glance in another direction you can see a range of mountains. Simply being in that place made you feel closer to God.
However, while up there, I noticed a man sitting on a bench reading a novel. He was from our group. In fact, I had noticed that throughout the trip he had been completely engrossed in the novel. As we traveled on the bus, the guide would tell stories of the countryside, but he never lifted his head from the novel. When we visited ancient towns where Jesus had walked, he carried his novel with him. Even when we took the boat across the Sea of Galilee, he opened his book and started reading.
I don’t want to sound judgmental because he may have had a very good reason for reading the novel. Perhaps he had seen all of this before many times. Still, I couldn’t help but think when he got home and someone asked, “How was the Holy Land?” he would have to say, “I don’t really know much about the Holy Land, but let me tell you about my novel.” It seemed to me he had missed the moment for a book he could have read anywhere.
It also set me to thinking how many times you and I are like that man. The other evening, Carol and I went to dinner with some friends. At one point, I glanced around the restaurant and noticed that virtually every other person had their cell phone out and was either talking, texting or reading social media.
I have a granddaughter who is very much like her granddaddy. If a TV is on, she becomes so engrossed in it, she can’t see anything else or hear what anybody else is saying. (I say she is like her granddaddy—over the years I’ve had to train myself so that when I go into a hospital room I don’t quit paying attention to the patient and start watching the TV.)
It’s easy to get distracted from the things that matter most in life, isn’t it? I know people who have become so distracted with things to do on the weekends, they have lost sight of the importance of worship. Have you ever known someone so addicted to technology they rarely have an in-depth conversation with another human being? Sometimes even churches can spend so much time talking about how ministries are to be done, they no longer focus on the ministries themselves. And lest anyone thinks I am pointing a finger at others, I confess I am guilty of my own set of distractions.
So this week, I want to challenge all of us to make a conscious effort to set aside the distractions, climb that high mountain with Christ and pay attention to what matters most.