This past Sunday was the last one before Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent this week. The transfiguration story where Jesus takes some of his disciples up a mountain and he appears bright and shining (like a heavenly being) with great prophets of Israel reminds us that there are times when being a person of faith is amazing. Moments when God’s presence is evident, comforting, and reassuring. Situations where the view of creation and our place in it is spectacular (figuratively and literally). Instances where it is clear how to follow Jesus and obvious that it makes a difference.
Just like the disciples, we leave those “mountain top” experiences and return to our normal life where being a person of faith is not always simple, straight-forward, or pleasant. Days when it seems like the call to love our neighbor (and our enemies?!) is impossible. Times that God seems just too far away. Places where working for justice seems simply absurd.
As we head into Lent on Ash Wednesday, we remember that our human limitations mean it is not possible for us to do a perfect job of following Jesus. But we also remember we’ve seen glimpses of the transformation that God can and does bring. We live in that balance, in that tension, between the struggle and the beauty of the life of faith. Glimpses of the shining hope at those mountain tops empower us for the struggles and challenges we face day to day. And even when we can’t actually see a dazzling and heavenly Jesus, we know he is there with us. Always.