A NOTE FROM PASTOR MARGE
Have you ever had a mountaintop experience? These are moments when we experience God in an intense, intimate way. We love mountaintop experiences, don’t we? I can tell you a mountaintop experience I have every year is when I stand alongside Pastor Bob on Christmas Eve at the front of the church and look out at the sea of candles being lifted high. There's just nothing like it. I see Christ's light illuminating the darkness and it is just always a surreal, intense, intimate moment that I have with my Heavenly Father. I physically get goosebumps every year during that moment. I could just stay there forever.
There’s only one problem with those mountaintop experiences: they are not meant to last forever. As Christians, we are called to share and spread Christ’s light to the ends of the earth. We must come down off the mountain eventually, right? Those moments and experiences certainly matter, and Jesus indeed takes us up to the top of those mountains. That’s where He prepares us so that we can walk down the mountain where ministry is really happening, in the valleys.
In Mark 9:14, Peter, James, and John have just finished having their mountaintop experience on the Mountain of Transfiguration. They have just witnessed Jesus’s divinity burst forth through His humanity and they come down off the mountain and walk into a complete mess. It is here that we see miraculous ministry happen. They find the other disciples and religious people arguing with one another and meanwhile, there’s a dad who desperately needs help. His son has been possessed by a demon and is continually being tormented day after day. Jesus chastises the disciples and religious people, the very people who ought to know better, who have probably had a mountaintop experience before. Then, the desperate father asks Jesus if He can do anything, to have compassion and to help. The crucial moment in our Scripture passage happens next in verses 23-24: “And Jesus said to him, ‘If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.’ Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’” This is probably the most honest prayer in all of Scripture. This dad who finds himself in a seemingly hopeless situation comes face-to-face with the Son of God and admits that he has nothing for Jesus except a whole big pile of unbelief and just a little bit of belief. He does not try to negotiate with Jesus, to justify His feelings, this dad simply brings all of it to Jesus and lays it at His feet.
God does not reveal Himself to us so that we can sit and soak it up on the mountaintop and be blessed. Rather, God comes face to face with us so that we can be sent and serve on mission in the valley and so that ultimately, we would come closer to the one that blesses us. St. Pete First, I invite you all during this season of Lent to come face to face with Jesus. To come as you are, with your whole lot of unbelief and your mustard seed of faith. My prayer at the beginning of this Lenten season is that we
would cry out, “God, I believe! Help me overcome my unbelief" and watch God move the very mountains that seem impossible for us to move. Because if the tomb is empty, anything is possible.
— Pastor Marge