When we loosen our grip on what we think must be,
God finds space to infuse our lives with more than is humanly possible.
2 Kings 2: 1-12
Mark 9: 2-9
Daddy and his daughter were spending a quiet day at home. But daughter was getting a little bored. So Daddy asked his little girl whether she’d like him to draw a nice picture for her.
“Yes,” she says, “God.”
After a moment of silence Daddy answered,
“How about a nice cow falling off a cliff.”
Both of our biblical stories today are close encounters with the indescribable: a living Elijah lifted to heaven; Jesus’ getaway guy-time unexpectedly meets up with God servants from centuries before. Their closest followers watch. Elisha holds onto his reality with a tight grip. Awestruck, Peter, James and John think they might be loosing their grip on reality.
Peter, man of action, is the first one to try shake the confusion off. I’m seeing something awesome. What does this have to do with me? Peter tries to connect with what he’s seeing. He decides to offer a service but wants more than is humanly possible-to hold onto the moment he’s in without moving on. He mobilizes back toward the reality he knows. Which makes him imminently loveable, because we recognize that impulse, don’t we? J When Peter speaks up, God immediately cuts off Peter’s words and his intended action.
At least Jesus’ sidekicks don’t try to explain what’s happening like the bystander prophets in Elisha’s experience. Youtube, advice columns, and blogs are full of attempts to explain:
What Tolkien’s one ring really means.
Why we feel a certain way.
What we should do when someone hurts us, or helps us.
We don’t hear a word Jesus says a word in this passage, though we know Jesus is talking with Moses and Elijah, we don’t hear a word he says. This passage is not about teaching. It’s about being.
Its tough trying to figure out how to enter the stories we bear witness to. We want to create pedestals for those who inspire us. I think of Brian Williams trying to find his way into being part of the stories he covered. I think of the way others grabbed onto young Alex Malarkey’s story about a trip to heaven and back and made it into the best selling, “The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven,” even while Alex and his Mom kept trying to say, “it didn’t happen like that. I think of Bill Cosby and how hard it was for those who saw what was really happening to figure out what to do about it.
When we try to grab onto the moment and preserve it the way we want it to be, our tight grip ends up breaking things. Thank God, that opens up space for God to work healing.
But maybe we don’t have to break things.
Our blessing this morning is seeing Elisha, Peter, James, and John in the grip of soul moments.
How can Elisha and Peter convey their experiences to others without sounding like they’ve lost their grip? Maybe they can’t! But they can describe the way their hands gave up tight grips and opened to receive and to give out of the marvelous, mind blowing mystery of God’s active presence. They can live into that presence in ways that honor and extend the best work of those who taught them. Teetering on the edge of the reign of God, they can take the plunge into God's purpose.
So can we. We can push the pause button on our need to get a grip…..look around……check out what God is really doing…..let ourselves be a little helplessly awestruck before we swing into action. If we do, we’ll find that God has more in mind for us than is humanly possible.