Sunday March 8, 2020 The 2nd Sunday of Lent (Cycle A)
The tie in between today’s readings: Following the Divine GPS
If we need to drive somewhere new, most of us plug the address into our GPS and off we go. Our experience with this technology gives us the faith to follow its directions to get us where we want to be. With His “look down” perspective, God, like a GPS, sees our life journey from the beginning to the end. The difference is that He chooses the destination and plots the course for each of us to take. It’s a daunting task of faith for us because each of our roads are unique and may take us into places that we’d rather not go. Every step along the way requires that we trust the guidance of our perfect, all knowing Father. The reading in Psalm 33:4 asserts that all His works are done in faithfulness, so it’s reassuring to know that God has our backs and won’t leave us high and dry. Our readings today also give three very different roads travelled by very different people as examples to how the Lord may lead us on our journey of faith here on earth and home to glory.
Our first example is in Genesis 12:1-4. Abram is just a regular guy. Nothing special, except God picked him for a monumental purpose. First the risk: leave everything and everybody behind and go to an unknown land. Now, the reward: God promises to make a great nation out of him and bless the whole earth through him. Abram takes God up on His offer. No guts…no glory.
“OK, God, tell me what to do.” He says.
“Abram, face Canaan and start walking.”
“How far? I’m seventy-five, you know.”
“I know, I’ll tell you when to stop. Until then, just keep on walking”
“Abram, right foot…left foot…right foot…left foot.”
So, Abram started. He walked and he walked, and he walked some more. There were missteps of trust along the way along with great victories of faith. In the end, he had two sons and the only land that he owned was a cemetery plot, not much of a nation. But, during that time God transformed him from within. Abram became Abraham. He began the Jewish nation and the line of the Messiah. All believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, Jew or Gentile, are considered part of his spiritual bloodline. We look to his all too human sojourn for comfort, direction, and challenge for our lives and we are blessed by it. All this because he walked with God.
Jesus takes Peter, James, and John on a side trip up a mountain in Mathew 17:1-9, our gospel reading for today. Maybe, Jesus went up there because He was a little homesick or was looking for some encouragement before taking the next crucial step in His mission. Whatever the reason, His disciples got way more than they bargained for at the top. He was transfigured before them. He shone like the sun. Moses and Elijah showed up. In a real sense, heaven came down to earth. No wonder Peter didn’t want to ever leave. Then the Father’s voice, out of a cloud, reminded them that Jesus was in charge. They fell on their faces in terror. Suddenly, it all disappeared. It was only a visit. On the way back down, Jesus told them not to tell anyone about it until His resurrection. Mountain top experiences are personal. God gives them to particular people for certain reasons at special times. Telling others about them brings attention to ourselves and tarnishes the intimacy. While they are exhilarating and never to be forgotten events…privacy in these matters is prudent.
Maybe God is leading you to suffer for Him. The Apostle, Paul in today’s epistle in 2 Timothy 1:8-10 encourages his young apprentice in the Lord to boldly join him in hardship and prison for the gospel’s sake. He reminds young Timothy that God has saved us by His grace to eternal life. Salvation in Christ is the most precious, fantastic, and marvelous gift the Lord gives to mankind. As my neighbor says when she sees a gorgeous gown or a luxurious home, “It is to die for!” So, take your stand in it! Blessed are the persecuted for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:11). Jesus tells us not to fear man who can only destroy the body (Matthew 10:28). God’s Spirit gives us the power and the assurance to proclaim that there is no other way to heaven but through Jesus Christ alone (Acts 4:12). Let us not be ashamed of the gospel’s counterculture message, lest our Lord be ashamed of us at His return.
Abram, Peter, James, John, and Paul gave their lives to God and He took them all in very different directions. I dare say that they never regretted it for a moment. So whatever road God has planned for you: sufferings, mountain top experiences, or to just keep on walking through the daily routines of life, go in faith. Don’t worry or compare yourself to the other person. It’s your road, planned and laid out by the Father perfectly to give you a happily ever after. But when the going gets rough, we have the words of our reading in Psalm 33:18-22 to encourage us:
18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
19 to deliver them from death
and keep them alive in famine.
20 We wait in hope for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
22 May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
even as we put our hope in you.