From the Mount of Transfiguration to the Valley of Tragedy and Beyond


Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. 

Jesus, I belong to you.

I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body as a holy and living sacrifice to you. 

Jesus, We belong to you. 

Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen. 

Luke 9:28–33 (NIV)

About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.)


All kinds of responses emerge to the miracle of Transfiguration Mountain. Primary among them is this one:

As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.)

We are so prone to want to build something to somehow hold the work of God, to try and contain it, memorialize it, even extend it. The presence of God is just so miraculously precious. Something in us wants to keep it on the mountain; to create a “come to” place; to build three tabernacles.

Mountain top experiences cannot be contained. They must be received as holy encounters and then processed and pressed into pilgrimage. I love the way Oswald Chambers speaks of this, “It is a wonderful thing to be on the mountain with God, but a person only gets there so that he may later go down and lift up the demon-possessed people in the valley (see Mark 9:14-18).” He adds, “The true test of our spiritual life is in exhibiting the power to descend from the mountain.” 

Perhaps the most critical thing we must remember about Transfiguration Mountain are the thunderous, piercing words from God the Father Almighty:

This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him. (v.35) 

Everyone and everything points to Jesus. Our life only makes sense and finds its deepest coherence, in all its possibilities and in all its pain, in Jesus alone. In fact, it is in the pain where the possibilities become translated. I have always loved this bit of the story as recorded by Matthew’s Gospel:

When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus. Matthew 17:8. 

Beholding Jesus. Listening to Jesus. This is our core of our identity and the circumference of our vocation. Jesus, I belong to you. Jesus we belong to you. This is how we become transformed—not by trying harder but by trusting deeper—by seeing only Jesus. This is not some kind of religious fanaticism. It is rather the gifted pursuit of a holy obsession. I am reminded of the great Celtic prayer, the Breastplate of Saint Patrick. 

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

There is one more bit here. It’s the the move from the dream of the mountain top to the dissonance of descent and and ultimately the devastation awaiting at the bottom of the valley. Look how Jesus makes the turn:

44 “Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.” 45 But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. We will walk through the wilderness with Jesus now—all the way to the cross—where we will find the mount of transfiguration become the cross of disfiguration. The death of our dreams will become the birth of our destiny. Because on the third day . . .  


Thank you Jesus. Thank you. Amen. 


Are you finding a vantage point in your life to behold Jesus? Are you learning to listen to Him? Do you have eyes to see? Do you have ears to hear? Is your understanding growing? Are you inquiring of Him as to what he means? Or are you afraid to ask? Are you waking up to a holy obsession with Jesus; not fanaticism, not rote religion, but pure-hearted longing for more of Jesus? 


Because I’m writing this only a few hours before it will show up in your inbox, I’m turning to one of our favorites—and because its an incredible and simple song: “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.”

For the Awakening,
J. D. Walt

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

3 Responses

  1. I can hear my savior calling, “Take thy cross and follow, follow me.”
    Where He leads me I will follow, I’ll go with Him all the way.
    I’ll go with Him through the waters.
    I’ll go with Him through the garden.
    I’ll go with Him to dark Calvary.
    I’ll go with Him to the judgement.
    He will give me grace and glory,
    And go with me, with me all the way.

  2. As I climb to the mountain top, may I hold a hand behind me and the one above me. And with the other hand, we hold on to the Truth, the Way, and The Life.

    Ecclesiastes 4:12
    And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

    Staying 💪’n The Lord

  3. Here are three thoughts I woke up with this morning before I read today’s Wake-Up Call:

    * Let ongoing adoration of the risen Jesus begin deep within you.

    * The most important revival you can ever experience is a Jesus revolution in your own heart.

    * The difficulties of life can burry your heart and leave you in darkness. Look up. Jesus is searching your rubble to rescue and revive you!

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