The Mountain: A New Understanding of Intimacy

2 Oct

In Matthew Chapter 17, Matthew tells the miraculous story of the Transfiguration where Jesus revealed His glory to His disciples Peter, James, and John. The scripture tells us that Jesus’ “face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as light.” (Matthew 17:2) What an incredible sight to see! Jesus had disclosed His inner divine nature before their very eyes. But Jesus didn’t stop there. “Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus.” (Matthew 17:3) Could you imagine? I can just picture Peter, James, and John as their jaws hung low, their eyes widened, and every hair on their body stood on edge. Their faith must have grown exponentially in that moment, being in the presence of Jesus Christ, in all His splendor, and two of the most God-fearing prophets in history. Peter was so elated that he exclaimed, “Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters – one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” (Matthew 17:4) Peter longed to live on the mountain, the fullness of the glory of the Lord bringing inconceivable bliss to his spirit. And rightly so! We were all created to long for more, to desire to be in the permanent presence of the Lord. This world is only our temporary home. Who wouldn’t want to take up residence on the mountain with the Living God? But Peter had work to do…

I have lived the last six months of my life on the spiritual mountain, so to speak. Nearly every hour of my life during my Discipleship Training School with Youth With a Mission involved the conscious and passionate pursuit of God. On top of my own commitment to discipleship, I lived in a community with hundreds of other intensely committed people, most of whom had sacrificed nearly everything this world has to offer to be there. Being in such an anointed environment coupled with relentless pressing in to the Lord, brought my level of sensitivity to His presence to an all-time high. I heard His voice regularly, as He spoke words of direction, assurance, and love to me. I felt Him close to me, as I waited for Him in the prayer room and worshipped Him in songs of praise. I experienced new levels of freedom in Christ as He continually refined my character and reminded me of my identity. My faith soared and, much like Peter, I would have been content to live on the mountain forever. But the Lord summoned me home to Orange County, California, commissioning me to be a missionary in the one of the hardest places to share the Gospel – one’s hometown. (Matthew 13:54-58)

Though I was overjoyed to see my friends and family, I felt a tiny whisper of unrest in my spirit. I had again left the ease of the reservation and entered the tension of the battlefield. Knowing He is my only lifeline, I pressed in deeper than ever. And, as always, He was faithful.

On Thursday, as I pulled into the parking lot of Saddleback Church’s Refinery building to attend my usual college-aged service (called Crave), I said a quick prayer, asking the Lord to reveal Himself strongly through the service. I surrendered any expectations and walked in.

And the Lord blew my mind.

Our pastor, Brad Baker, delivered a powerful message proclaiming the Good News of God as our Healer. Worship was incredible, the fruits of the Spirit were evident everywhere you looked and the glory of the Lord rained down on everyone present. Towards the end of the service, Brad invited us to raise our hands if we needed healing and we, as the church community, prayed healing over each other.

And people were healed! I’m sure many more stories will pour in throughout the week, but I’ve already heard of: healed backs, mended hearts, and pain vanishing from knees.

As the band played the final worship set, college students across the room lifted their hands high and shouted to the Lord, unashamed and unrestrained from social pressures. As I saw the mere beginnings to my wildest dreams for this community take flight, I thanked the Lord over and over for His faithfulness. And He whispered this truth to my heart…

“Daughter, you never left the mountain. I am your unshakeable mountain, and I will be with you wherever you go.”

Certainly there are environments in this world where the conditions are right to experience the presence of the Lord, and those places are incredible places to be. But true intimacy, the kind of intimacy that we ought to be desperate for as believers, has nothing to do with a place, a song, a community, a message, or anything else for that matter. True intimacy comes when the believer has experienced for themselves the reality of Jesus Christ as their Savior, and pursued Him tirelessly with everything they have. True intimacy is a marriage of your spirit with His, an unbreakable bond, the only thing that lasts for eternity.

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3 Responses to “The Mountain: A New Understanding of Intimacy”

  1. Deborah October 2, 2010 at 9:46 am #

    Wow, thanks for sharing Erika. Your account rumbles my spirit!
    Love, Deborah

  2. La Vonne Earl October 2, 2010 at 5:16 pm #

    I am so thankful Erika that you chose to leave your mountain so you could be here sharing your faith with us!
    True faith away from the mountain takes much discipline and you have definitely shown how truly close you walk with the Lord! Praise God! We love you!

  3. Laura October 4, 2010 at 8:17 am #

    Erika,
    Have been following your blog for a bit, love your photos. Very inspiring, also your journey with YWAM. I have been meditating for some time on the Transfiguration and enjoyed reading how your prayer was heard and God transfigured and suffused the Crave meeting with Himself. Actually one of the more interesting things about the Transfiguration account is that when Peter spoke, God then gave Peter some great advice: Matt 17:5 …a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

    It’s advice I try to remind myself of often–Instead of talking–listen to Him! Thanks for the testimony and your passion for Him.

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