Today’s Gospel records the last experience of Jesus’ closest disciples with the risen Jesus. There are moments in our lives when for one reason or another we are not quite ready to let go of certain spiritual experiences.
My wife, Valarie, shared her testimony of having ascended into the presence of Jesus during her first surgery. Among other glorious and inspiring experiences, she spoke of seeing and talking with Jesus in the presence of children whom she taught in Sunday school, spanning many years of faithful and committed service to Christ and his church. Smiling and laughing, she shared how deeply and personally transforming was the experience for her that she did not want it to end. That particular in-heaven experience has served as a deep source of blessings to Valarie and now, since her death, to us—her family.
That mountaintop experience was a special encounter in which God allowed her to have a deep spiritual experience that was meant to strengthen her faith for the challenges she would later endure. But it was only a temporary event. It was not meant to be permanent.
In the same way, at certain times in this life, God may give certain members of the faithful special experiences of being in his presence for a while to strengthen their faith, knowing what is ahead. How should we respond to those brief but spectacular experiences?
Wellesley Ferguson, pastor, Vanderbilt Avenue Moravian Church, Staten Island, New York, and Fellowship Moravian Church, Brooklyn, New York