This past week in my Lent devotionals I read one of the passages in the Bible that shares the story of the Transfiguration. The Bible is filled with lots of incredible stories, but this one is a bit more unusual than some of the others in it, because it Moses and Elijah (who have both been dead for many years) to a mountain top meeting with Jesus, while three of Jesus’ disciples look on. Crazy, right? It’s incredible to think that these three disciples got to spend time with not just Jesus but also with these two legends of the Old Testament. It’s easy to understand their excitement and desire to have them stick around for a while, I know I would want to spend as much time with them as possible as well.
But one of the things that caught my attention as I read the Matthew 17 version of the Transfiguration was the fact that you’ve got these three legends up on a mountain top, and it doesn’t share what they talked about. It says they talked but not what they talked about. It does share in Luke 9 that they talked about Jesus’ last days, but all three versions make it clear that they were all on the mountain for an extended period of time and I have a hard time believing that they only talked about Jesus’ last days. But if we didn’t have multiple versions of the story, like we don’t for most parts of the Bible, we wouldn’t have any idea at all what was said.
So all of this got me thinking about how often we don’t know the whole story. It’s really quite frustrating to think that there’s so much more to what happened to our favorite Biblical figures than what the many pages of the Bible shares, things that might help us better understand them or identify more with them, or better understand what God saw in them that we may not.
The same is true for our lives and the lives of the people we connect with each day both in person and online: we don’t know their whole story, and rarely do we know much of their story. Yes, if someone is active on social media it’s a lot easier to get to know them, but most people don’t post every aspect of their lives, so we only know what they choose to share. But chances are good you don’t meet someone and instantly go on their social accounts and try to find out stuff about them, most of us don’t care enough about those very minor interactions to go to those efforts. My point here is that we don’t know the whole story: we don’t know everything they’re struggling with or God is working with them on. We don’t know everything that makes them shine and they’re passionate about. We don’t know everything about their past and how they came to the point of being where they are and the person they are today.
So each interaction, each person, each moment is an opportunity to be more open, to judge slower, to ask God for His feedback before jumping to conclusions, and to be willing to listen and learn as the world unfolds around you. What will you learn by being a little more detail oriented and patient today?