Today’s post is written by my dear friend, Jackie. I am blessed beyond measure to know her, and now you will be, too!
Luke 6:12 “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.
As I watched the sun rise over the hills of Rome this morning, I was transported back, instantly, to that other morning, many years ago, when I had watched the sun rise over another hill. The one where Jesus had gone to pray.
He’d been up there all night, alone. Oh, I’d tried to sleep, down there at the bottom of the mountain, but the ground was hard, and I’d tossed and turned, and besides, Matthew and James were snoring loud enough to bring the devil out of his den, so in the end I’d given it up as a bad job.
And, to tell you the truth, I was worried about him. Up there on his own, in the dark, on top of a mountain, with who knew what sort of wild beasts prowling around waiting to devour him. Oh, I know now, of course, that the wild beasts wouldn’t have harmed him – he’d created them, after all – but back then….well, I’m not sure that back then I really understood what it was all about.
So, I decided that there was nothing else for it, and I set off for the summit. It was a hard climb. I wasn’t getting any younger, and it crossed my mind…..and not for the first time either, whether I had completely taken leave of my senses. I mean, I’d been happy enough in Capernaum. Not rich, but not poor either. Comfortable, most of the time. A fairly successful business, decent home, good family…and I’d left it all behind to follow this man who was…..what? Was he really who I thought he was? I hoped so, because I was getting too old for climbing mountains at the crack of dawn if he wasn’t.
And then suddenly, the ground seemed to level out, and there was no more climbing, and I looked across and saw him. He sat, his hands resting between his knees, and he was looking up to Heaven and smiling. And as I looked at him, the sun seemed to climb a little higher and came to rest just behind him. As long as I live, I’ll never forget how he looked that morning. It’s hard to describe, but the sun seemed to burnish him. Yes, that’s it. It seemed to turn him to gold. And I just stood there and watched him, drinking in the sight of him.
I must have knocked a stone with my foot, because something distracted him, and he looked towards me, and shaded his eyes with his hand, and said,
‘Peter? Peter, is that you?’
‘Yes, Lord’ I said. ‘It’s me’.
And he smiled and asked ‘What are you doing here?’
And I suppose I was a bit embarrassed, but I said ‘I was worried about you’.
He smiled again. ‘Well, that’s nice Peter,’ he said. ‘It’s always good to know someone cares about you. It makes all the difference’. And he patted the ground beside him and said, ‘Will you come and sit with me awhile?’
So I did. And whenever I thought about that morning afterwards, I was glad I did, because he asked me to sit with him again on another occasion. You’ve probably heard about it – that time in the garden, and….well, I’m ashamed to think of it now, because I didn’t score many marks on that particular test.
So, there we sat, watching the clouds, praying a little, thinking a little, perfectly at ease with one another, in companionable silence. But I couldn’t get that picture of him out of my head, how he’d looked with the sun behind him. So I said to him, ‘I was wondering Lord, how do you pray? Because when I first saw you this morning you looked…’ I tried to find the right words. ‘…you looked sort of lost in God’.
He smiled and said, ‘Well, a lot of the time, I just talk to him’.
I couldn’t believe it. ‘You just talk to Him?’ I repeated. ‘You mean like you talk to me? What on earth do you say to Him?’
‘I tell Him about you,’ he said, ‘and John and Andrew and the others. I tell Him about my day, if it’s been a good one or a not so good one. He likes to hear it.’
‘So you don’t say prayers like the psalms? Like we’ve always done?’
‘Oh, sometimes I do’ he said. ‘Sometimes they give me the right words when I can’t find them myself…“Lord, hear my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call you, with sinking heart. Help me up this rock that’s too high for me to climb“….That’s one I like’ he said. ‘It suits me at times’.
‘It’d suit us all at times’ I replied, wishing I’d thought of that particular psalm earlier, during my ascent. ‘And I suppose you get answers to your prayers straightaway?’
He smiled again. ‘Oh Peter…’ he said. ‘Peter…I thought you knew the Father better than that.’
‘I suppose I expected it to be different for you’.
‘No’, he said. ‘I know he hears me always, and I’m never out of his thoughts and care, and I always get an answer, but not straightaway….and not always the answer I think I’ll get, and not always the answer I wanted.’
‘Well you amaze me, Lord,’ I said. ‘Hasn’t God strange ways?’
‘It depends how you look at it, Peter,’ he said. ‘You see, we only see a bit of life, but the Father sees it all, and one day we’ll see it all too. And then we’ll understand. But for now, Peter, we’re not really meant to understand. For now, what we’re meant to do is be a friend to God, and let Him be a friend to us. He loves you to pray, Peter. He loves to hear your prayers. But some days, when you feel as if there’s no prayer left in you, he loves you to just sit with Him, and let Him be your friend.’
‘You mean like we sat, just now?’
‘Exactly that, Peter. In fact some days, I think He likes that best of all’
Suddenly, he jumped up and slapped me on the back. ‘Come on,’ he laughed. ‘I’ll race you to the bottom!’ And off he skipped, like a mountain goat.
And I thought about what he’d said earlier, and looked up to Heaven and said, ‘Father, I know you’re listening. Now, if it’s not too much trouble, could you possibly help me down this rock that’s too high for me to climb….’
So, that’s my story. And nobody ever knew that I was on the mountain that morning. But just because it’s not written down doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Young John had it right, when he said ‘If we’d written down everything that had happened, the world wouldn’t be big enough to hold all the books’.
It’s stayed with me always, the memory, and I think of it often, when life seems hard, or I’m not sure which way to turn, I recall the memory of that golden morning, when me and my friend God sat in companionable silence.
Dear Father, May I sit with you a while today?