Proverbs 29:18 reminds us that “when there is no vision, the people perish.”
After experiencing the Gospel story of Jesus being tempted in the desert, we are treated to the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus, in front of Peter, James and John. It has all the structure of an iconic narrative, including a mountaintop and the visitation of Moses and Elijah. Peter, James and John were invited to glimpse what God has in mind for all of us. Seeing Jesus transfigured before them, they were initially frightened, and then they wanted to make the mountaintop their permanent home. Jesus reminded them that the vision they were given was to be cherished, but not possessed. They must go down the mountaintop, back to their families and friends, and live having been transformed by the vision.
To put the Gospel question bluntly: Do you have a vision given to you by God, or are you on the road to disaster?
In Genesis on the Second Sunday of Lent, we hear about the vision given to Abraham that encourages him to leave his homeland to experience God’s blessing and be the father of many nations. Do we have a similar vision that calls us out of our comfort zones into a deeper vision of what God has in mind for each of us? Remember that when there is no vision, the people will perish.
Take a moment during this week to remember all of the mountaintop experiences God has given you. Think of the various forms of love that have touched our lives. Think about all the cherished moments of new life, new birth and renewal. Think about having enough food to eat daily and a place to live. We might think that somehow we’re entitled to those things — but for many people, those are mountaintop experiences. Having medicines for childhood diseases is a gift we have that most other people don’t. To be able to turn on the water in our houses and believe that the water is safe to drink is a gift that much of the world doesn’t have. To be employed and to have safe and secure housing is a gift many in the world don’t have. Do we experience those gifts as a revelation of God’s generosity or simply believe that we’re entitled to those things?
Lent is that season of the Church year in which we are called to stop in our tracks and become more conscious of daily life. When we choose during Lent to increase our time with God, and decrease our cluttered lives, we are given the opportunity to become more conscious of the mountaintop experiences right here and right now. We become more conscious of giftedness.
Even though you went to church and got ashes on your forehead, has that made a difference in how you live right now or is it simply an outward sign? Is there room in your life for true conversion, or will you only go where God takes you if it is what you want to do or is in your comfort zone? Do you really trust God more than anything or anyone else? What might be holding you back from answering God’s call to see the vision and live our daily lives with hope and joy?
Lent can come and go if we’re not careful, and nothing changes in our lives. Now is the day of salvation; now is the acceptable time for conversion.
Father Donald Wester is pastor of All Saints Parish in St. Peters.