As I think about Moses and the challenging season of life he faced in our Old Testament reading today (read about it here) I remember the months after I graduated from college as one of the most challenging changing seasons of my own. College had been great. Thanks to many of the teachers and professors I had the privilege of working with, I knew what I liked to do. I knew that whatever I chose to do with my life, working with language and words and ideas would be a big part of it. I also liked to meet new people and get to know folks who thought and lived in ways that were different than my own. But after a summer of study abroad…after two months of wandering around the major capitals of Europe with an orange Let’s Go Europe guidebook bumping around in my backpack…I was back home again. I was living with my parents, not successful at finding a job I wanted and feeling incredibly guilty about being stuck. The realization hit home: a college degree marks a significant accomplishment in life…but now what? As I moved from a life of study/childhood to a life of employment/adulthood, I needed to ask and answer the larger question: What is life really all about?
This Sunday our church celebrates the last Sunday of the Epiphany season, a Sunday that we remember how Jesus was mysteriously transfigured on a mountain in front of his disciples prior to his arrest, trial, and crucifixion (you can find it here). It is the perfect off ramp from Epiphany (a time to focus on Jesus’ revelation of Himself as Lord of Life) to the season of Lent (a time to focus on Jesus’ love for us by suffering and dying to take away our sins). What is life really all about? Jesus would be killed “and on the third day raised” (9:22). That death on the cross would have significance for all Jesus’ followers who were to pick up their crosses daily and find life by giving it away (9:24). But Jesus’ words would have the weight and convey the blessing of God’s Word. The mountaintop experience that our text describes was a reminder that Jesus fulfilled what the Old Testament VIPs like Elijah and Moses longed to see themselves: the coming of God’s Kingdom! The departure—or Exodus—of God’s people (9:31) from the power of sin, death, and the Devil to new Life!
Even Moses must have had his “now what?” moments. Remember that story from Deuteronomy? God had used Moses to lead Israel through the wilderness to the Promised Land. But, as we read, Moses would one day have to weather the transition of active servant of God to elder mentor. He himself would not be permitted to enter the “land of milk and honey” he had done so much to prepare Israel for. That job would be given to his successor, Joshua. Yet even though Moses could never have expected he’d see and speak with Jesus Christ, the Son of God, on a mountain, he was given to see and to trust that God would fulfill his promise. Though he must have wondered, OK, God…Now What? the Plan was bigger and more wonderful than even he could imagine.
We have all had…and will probably again have…our “Now what?” moments. There will be times of surrender for us, as there were for Moses. But given to trust, as he did, in the promises of God, there is no telling what future wonders await us. Today we see, with the eyes of faith, the glory of God revealed in Christ Jesus. We live to the fullest today…and await our future transfiguration.