Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, 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 to say, they were so frightened.)
– Mark 9:5-6 (NIV)
I have been without words for the past few days – just a lot of feelings and an inability to focus.
That is because I saw a father in the Ukraine putting his daughter on a train to escape violence. The father himself was not going with her – he was staying behind. It was possibly the last time he was saying, “goodbye.”
I also saw a mother in the United States of America, the world’s apparent shining example of democracy, distraught over how to protect her child from laws designed to discriminate against her child and others of her child’s gender.
A Profound Sense of Helplessness
You know and I know that none of this is new in the world. Still, what these scenes, and many others like it, bring up inside of me is a profound sense of helplessness.
I mean, what can I do, all the way over here, to be meaningfully helpful?
It seems that my desiring safety has meant keeping myself at a distance from such things – I have successfully kept myself and my family from needing to feel fear about this kind of thing.
At the same time, that distance from fear has also kept me away from my calling and the zone of being able to do something. And, that has led me, in my prayers, to realize something:
Fear is a pre-requisite of calling.
In scripture, there is rarely a time when God calls someone to go and/or do something who then responds with, “sure thing – easy peasy – let’s go.”
As the scene from Jesus’ transfiguration above depicts, people are first freaked out (a 21st century term, nevertheless accurate) when they encounter God and experience God’s divine identity.
Reflecting Upon Our Mortality
So, this brings us to the end of this special message with some questions that I have been thinking about:
- Am I adequately fearful about the thing that I am saying is my calling?
- When I call for peace during wartime, have I reached out to those whom I call my enemies in my own denomination as an example of peace?
- When I think about what “success” looks like in ministry and in life, does it include a reasonable amount of mystery, danger (even), and faith?
- Are there possibly others around me who are sensing something similar to whom my own experience or testimony could be of guidance?
There are no easy answers to any of these questions. That is the way that it is supposed to be because these are the deepest of questions to consider.
But, if you are like myself these days and taking these things seriously, then my hope is that you are encouraged by the fact that it resembles the experience of Peter, James, and John during their one transfigurational time with Jesus on a mountain.
I believe that through any circumstance, God is revealing something. So, what a Lent we will have this year. At least, that is what I fearfully believe.
May the light of God reach us to enliven our soul today and in the days to come as we lead God’s people into some special days of preparation.
James J. Kang
Head of Platform and Co-founder