What does it mean to search for transcendence? The dictionary puts it this way: “to go beyond the limits or powers of oneself.” Philosophers put it this way: “to go beyond the normal limits; to go beyond the limits of human experience.” Transcendental meditation is defined as “a meditation in which the mind is released from its normal limits.”

I have been re-reading Richard Foster’s book entitled “Spiritual Disciplines.” In the book, one chapter is on the subject of “Meditation.” Foster writes on the importance of meditation. Meditation is important, but the focus of our meditation is the key. Is it on a “mantra, or is it on God and the teachings of the Bible?

There is and has been for centuries a search for transcendence. We seek to get outside of ourselves, out of this prison of who I am, and into a realm where I am beyond who I am or what I have become. We search for more than what I have become. It is as though I am locked up inside a prison of my own making, and I seek anything possible that will set me free.

This is one reason why we struggle with the addictions we struggle with today. Through social media, I am criticized and made fun of, and I believe what others say of me. I seek freedom. I come to a place where the failures of life become greater than the successes of life and I feel worthless, so I seek escape from those failures. I am not a worthy person, at least in my own eyes. I vividly recall sitting with a veteran of World War two as he emotionally told his story of the invasion of Iwo Jima. He was an infantry leader, and he was in the first line of defense of that horrible invasion. All night long, his machine gun rattled, and in the process, he burned out three barrels of his machine gun. The enemy came to him in wave after wave. He sat in my office with his head in his hands, and his body was wracked with emotional pain that he could not escape. He sought freedom from his past. All of us, in some ways, are on that search.

We seek transcendence. We want to become someone other than who I am. I want to float like a cloud in a world where all emotional pain and failure are gone. How do I get there? Jesus shares a story that may help us. It is in Mark 9. He takes three of his disciples to a mountain. At a certain place on the mountain, something happens. The Bible is so brief on some of these things that seem so significant to me. Mark merely tells us,” and He took Peter James and John to a high mountain by themselves, and he was transfigured before them.” The word “Transfigured” is not used today. What does it mean? The dictionary merely says, “to be changed in a meaningful way.” The word Transfiguration is based on the word “metamorphosed”. The best example is the formation of a butterfly. The beautiful colorful butterfly begins as larvae. There is little significance in these worm-like larvae. However, as time passes, this larva is transformed [transfigured] into a beautiful colorful butterfly.

As the disciples watch Jesus on this journey up the mountain, they physically see this process happen to Jesus. Mark tells us, “and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white as no launderer on earth can whiten them….’

What is happening? Who Jesus really was, “The Son of God,” shone through his human body and glowed with the radiance of His Divinity. By looking at Jesus physically, he could be mistaken for any other Jewish man. However, if we could look beyond His humanity, we would see who He really was, Deity. Transcendent.
This is what was happening on the mountain with these three men. They saw something that their mortal eyes could never see. Jesus was experiencing “transcendence.” He was a mortal man. I believe that. When He died on the cross, he died as a mortal man. When He cried out, “It is finished,” His mortal life was over. But we must see beyond that because while our mortal eyes see only a Jewish man, Jesus carried all the transcendence of God. On the mountain, these three men saw that transcendence, and they heard the voice from heaven that thundered, “THIS IS MY BELOVED SON, LISTEN TO HIM.”

Transcendence. People travel all over the world seeking to find it. We have our gurus and our maharishi to guide us to this experience where I can escape my mortality. There is a myriad of chemical products, some legal and some illegal, that I can use to seek to live beyond my boring and struggling humanity. But, could it be that what we seek lies within us if I have met this Christ that is shown us in Mark 9? Could it be that I have a treasure within me if I know this Christ that can give me what I seek, and I need not some human experience to find Him? How many times in my own life have I moved from the mortal to immortality as I pray in the Spirit? I become aware of Him who gives eternal life, and though all the issues I face still exist, I find that transcendence I long for. It comes from God, through the Holy Spirit.

One more interesting facet of this chapter begins in verse 9. Jesus and his three disciples came down from the mountain and immediately face the real problems of life. A crowd is gathered around the Disciples. In the center, there is a man with a son that is troubled by emotional problems brought on by Satan. The man has brought his boy to the Disciples, hoping they might help him, but they were helpless. Jesus walks into this situation of human helplessness. It is a tragic scene of how helpless we are by ourselves. There are times that life overwhelms us. But Jesus merely speaks, and after a convulsive scene, that father takes his son home. The transcendent God, through His Son Jesus Christ, has brought life and hope where there was none.

The world we live in has brought tragic circumstances to the surface. Many are feeling overwhelmed by the issues of life. They seek help in so many places, but the well they drink from has gone dry and left them thirsty. Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life…”. If you have tried to drink from the wells of our culture and still seek, why not give Jesus the opportunity to bring order in times of chaos?

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