Have you ever had an experience that could only be described as, indescribable? When indescribable things happen to us or even to other people sometimes it is difficult to find the right words. There are times in life where the indescribable things are tragic, devastating, and life-altering. When these types of events occur that leave us or those, we know reeling with shock there are simply no words that can explain or soothe the situation. There are also times in life where the indescribable things are amazing, offer new understanding, and become life-transforming. However, in both accounts of indescribable experiences we often feebly attempt to fill the void of the revelation with unnecessary words. When what we need to do is be silent, listen carefully, and observe.
Change, metamorphosis, and transformation all mean a complete turnaround from the original form. Some of us embrace change; others of us, not so much. Sometimes change is good which is why we attempt to transform so many things in life. These can vary from the way things look, our behaviors, and even the way we live. I have always been fascinated with the effect that transformations can have.
When I think of transformation, the first thing that comes to my mind is the indescribable metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly. We can make all the attempts we want to explain it away using scientific terminology, but in the end, it is just magical. I used to live close to a butterfly center where I could experience each step and witness the processes and indescribable result of a rather ugly worm changing into a fragile, breathtaking, colorful, and beautiful butterfly.
Silence is Golden in the Face of Indescribable Things
Indescribable experiences often leave us at a loss of words but sometimes it isn’t a loss of words but a gush of words that spew from our mouth that we often wish we could retract. Maybe you have had that experience too. I know I certainly have. A place when I should have just listened and watched instead of opening my mouth. Witnessing the event as if not part, like the regrettable words that came out were almost as indescribable as the experience itself. When we don’t understand, stand in fear, or want to weakly explain things, even if to ourselves, we often just speak before we think. Perhaps this is the way Peter felt as he stood on the mountain of transfiguration.
He said this because he didn’t really know what else to say, for they were all terrified.Mark 9:6 (NLT)
I find it interesting to note that Peter’s blunder of inserting his foot into his mouth is pointed out not just in Mark but also in other gospels. Luke (9:33) says that Peter “blurted out” his rather absurd idea of making shelters. Matthew (17:4) is a bit kinder as it simply says Peter exclaimed. I can relate to Peter, as sometimes I should just keep my mouth closed and be in the moment, allowing things to reveal themselves. But too often when we are confused, or frightened, unnecessary words spew from our mouths instead of just allowing the experience to wash over us for just a moment.
Attempting to Describe the Transfiguration
This week holds Transfiguration Sunday. The Transfiguration is one of the most confusing stories in the scripture. It says that Jesus changed before them. Transfiguration sounds like a complicated word yet somehow more holy than to say He changed in front of them. But the Greek word is metemorfw/qh (metamorphothe) which is where our word metamorphosis comes from. And metamorphosis simply means to change. However, what happened on that mountain was not a change into something different, but a revealing of the true identity of the changed one.
It is the Words, however, spoken by God, which settle the experience and explain what not only Peter and the disciples needed to understand but us as well.
“This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to Him.”
God tells the disciples, who saw, that they needed to listen. Listen to what Christ is telling them so then they can act. Pay attention, God says because He has revealed who His Son is as the Transfiguration reveals Christ’s divine nature and authority. It is here that God shows the disciples and those of us who follow that His Son, Christ surpasses all others.
Every once in a while, we, too, get a glimpse of something larger than ourselves. It might be a word that touches our soul or the emotions that come to play as we stand on the edge of God’s created beauty. A moment when it is hard to swallow because we feel the depth of love and sacrifice made for us. These are bigger-than-life moments where even in the middle of the darkness we see the light. It is here that we can realize whose we are and that we, too, are changing on the path that He designs for us, but only because of Jesus.
Acknowledging the Indescribable
Peter’s blunder teaches us that before we attempt to explain and answer we first need to understand. And that sometimes there is simply no explanation just acceptance. As occasionally special revelations are granted to us and these don’t need explanations at all as we are to just bask in the glory of it. Instead of constantly seeking answers just know confidently that God is in control. There are many things we may not ever understand, but we can confidently know that there is much more to learn about Christ and the Transfiguration whether or not we can comprehend it. We only see the small picture while God above sees the whole plan.
When we acknowledge that Jesus is more than a great leader, good example, or great prophet and instead is the Son of God then we have the understanding to obey Him. This leads us to the only adequate response, which is worship, not weak attempts at explanation. The many voices of the world try to tell us how to live and some might even tell us how to know God personally. Some might be helpful and some not so much. This is why we must listen first to the Bible. Then we can evaluate the other authorities in the light of God’s revelation. We cannot explain what we do not understand but we can believe and follow the things that are revealed. And in turn, we can share that knowledge with others.
Listening, Observing, Understanding
Won’t you challenge yourself to listen carefully first before attempting to explain the indescribable things of life as you follow God’s Word? Root your convictions firmly in the knowledge of God’s love for you through the sacrifice of His Son. Find your motivation in knowing that the adventure of a new life in Christ begins only when the comfortable patterns of the old life are left behind. Surround yourself in the comfort of knowing that indescribable change comes from the light. And often true change comes when we learn to listen carefully, observe closely, and then prepare for the next step.
Love in Christ,
Jesus is God’s perfect, indescribable gift.Joel Osteen
What are Your Thoughts?
Do you rush to speak before you listen when indescribable things occur? Have you learned that silence is often golden when basking in the glory of God? Share your thoughts on the necessary importance of observing and understanding scripture before you attempt explanations.