Peter was awestruck. Along with James and John, he’d trudged up the mountain following Jesus, when suddenly “[Jesus’] face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.” The spectacle was soon even more amazing: Moses and Elijah—dead for many centuries—appeared and started talking with Jesus. 1
It’s not surprising that Peter was astonished, but he wasn’t quite beyond words. Peter, the outspoken and sometimes impulsive follower of Jesus, the one who had the courage to step out on the water at Jesus’ command,2 was a man of action. His response to the extraordinary event unfolding before his very eyes was perhaps typical. Not content to listen quietly to the conversation in front of him, or to reflect on its meaning, he interrupted them with a bold suggestion.
“Master, this is a great moment! What would you think if I built three memorials here on the mountain—one for you, one for Moses, one for Elijah?”3
A great way, perhaps, of recording the event, but his interruption brought the conversation to an abrupt end. God spoke from the cloud, and the disciples were petrified and fell flat on their faces. When they opened their eyes, Moses and Elijah were gone.
We all sometimes fail to treasure the present until it’s too late and the moment has passed. A brilliantly colored butterfly alights on a rock in the garden; we rush to get our camera, but by then the butterfly has flown away. We wander slowly to admire the architecture of the town we visit on holiday, but don’t seem to see the history of our own neighborhood. We count the days to a vacation in the country, not appreciating the trees and flowerbeds in the local park. We might find more fulfillment and satisfaction in our lives if, instead of living in hope for the future, we focused on the moment.
This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.—Psalm 118:24
The present moment is always a season which may be used or may be neglected, but which can never be recalled.—Canon Wynne (c. 1850)
The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us, and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone.—George Eliot (1819–1880)