Today is my son’s fourth birthday. And for the past few days I have been very nostalgic about it. I keep thinking fondly over the last four years of my life and how amazing they have been because of the existence of this tiny little person.
I wouldn’t trade a minute. As I reflect on it, each moment is precious and wonderful.
But I know that IN the moment I have occasionally missed this.
I have been tired. I have been frustrated. I have been distracted. And there were times where I missed the beauty of it.
But as I look back, I recognize that each of these moments was filled with God giving me grace through my child. Even if I didn’t see it at the time.
There is an interesting little comment at the end of the transfiguration story:
When the voice finished, Jesus was there alone. They didn’t tell anyone at that time what they had seen.
Why would you not tell people? If you had just seen two of the greatest heroes in your country and religion’s history, as well as watch the Son of God take on some sort of other-worldly form, wouldn’t you want to sprint down the hill and tell everyone you saw? Why would they keep it a secret? Even in the reading from Peter, he notes this as a significant event for understanding Jesus. But at the time, nothing.
Yet look at what Peter does when he is on the mountain….
He talks to hear his own voice. He fills the sacred silence with meaningless babble about something he clearly did not understand.
Perhaps the reason they said nothing at the time is because they had no idea what was going on. Maybe there was even some guilt for not getting it.
This is a significant moment in the life of Jesus. It is symbolic of so many aspects of his messiahship. Peter and James and John are encountering Jesus in a new and profoundly deep way.
And they miss it.
But as Audrey West suggests, and as we clearly see in the reading of Peter, they do begin to understand it LATER. This actually ends up being a pretty consistent pattern for the disciples. In the moment, they have this amazing encounter with the incarnate Word of God, but they cannot articulate the depth of this event until later.
Maybe this is not distinct to Jesus’ 12 closest disciples. Perhaps much of our own spirituality works in the same way. Perhaps some of our most profound experiences of God can only be truly understood after the fact.
In this season of my life, I have been trying to be better about what most people call “practicing the presence of God.” It is a practice of trying to be present to God in the ordinary and mundane moments of our lives.
And I suck at it.
It is horribly frustrating. I forget about God 90% of my day. I assume I am just floating through life and missing him all together.
Until I balance this practice with some reflection time. When I reflect on my day I discover that God was moving all day long. I just didn’t understand it at the time.
God spoke to me in a candid moment, but I missed it at the time. I had a great conversation with someone at work. I got to wrestle and play and experience the joy of my kids.
Sometimes I miss these things in the moment. But when I create margins in my life to review my day and reflect on my experiences, I find God pouring in to every little nook and cranny.
I want to get better at seeing Him in the moment. But maybe I don’t have to be so hard on myself. In fact, perhaps I actually need a little distance between an experience of God before I can truly understand it.
Because this story teaches us sometimes our most meaningful encounters with God are only truly recognized after the fact.
So I encourage you this week to take some time to reflect. Maybe it is simply reflecting over your day or just significant times in your life. But take the time to make a margin and notice where God has been working and you may have missed it.