It warns us upfront like, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you…” (1 Peter 4:12). The Bible, if you read it, describes the normal Christian life.

One of the dangers into which Christians fall is to make the Bible into something it was simply never intended to be. The Bible was not written in order to satisfy our curiosity. The Bible was not written in order to win arguments. The Bible was not written to be the basis of philosophical discussion for the religious.

The Bible is for today. It is a survival manual. It is practical and honest.

Mark 9:9-13 takes place following the Transfiguration. Peter, James and John are discussing Elijah (comparing him to John) and Christ’s coming suffering. But there is more going on here. It defines the normal Christian life. What can you expect as you walk with Christ?

You can’t stay on the mountain.

Many Christians base their entire lives on the memory of a mountaintop experience. That is all they think about. That is all they talk about. But living on a mountaintop isn’t normal. Walking in the valley is more like it.

Mountaintops were given for one reason…to see the view. Later, the remembrance of it makes the valley meaningful.

Have you ever been to a high school or college reunion? That is my second favorite thing in the world right after jumping off a cliff. At reunions you get the distinct impression that everyone is trying to capture—with the aid of a few spirits—what they once had. Not so surprisingly, it almost always ends in failure and disappointment. It’s not as they remembered or expected.

The Bible is for today. It is a survival manual. It is practical and honest.

That happens when you try to live on the mountain. Thank God for the experience, but there is always a friend who needs help, a neighbor who is lonely, and someone who could benefit from your stories of the mountain. We are called to live in the valley. God gives you spiritual experience to follow him into the world and serve others.

You will have questions.

Christians don’t have the world all figured out (even though we may pretend to). Christians don’t have all the answers. The truth is that I have more questions about God now than I did before he called me to himself. Not less.

Christopher Morley said, “Never write up a diary on the day itself. It needs longer than that to know what happened.”

That is true of my life with Christ. Every time I think I have God boxed in or carried around in my back pocket, he breaks out or jumps out. God always surprises me. I can’t figure him out. God is always doing something different.

A boy wrote a school paper on Benjamin Franklin: “He was born. He went to school, but he didn’t like it. One day he found a piece of candy and he ate it. A girl saw him and laughed at him. He married her and discovered electricity.”

Our theology is sometimes like that. There is so much more to God than what we’ve discovered. There is so much more to what God is doing than we know. There is so much more to God’s universe than what we grasp. So the only position we can take before God is humility. He is God and we’re not.

You may need to keep silent.

As you walk more closely with Christ, you’ll discover that not all he teaches you can be shared with everyone else.

Be sensitive to where people are. Resist the temptation. Don’t answer questions they never asked. Don’t scratch where they don’t itch. Just listen.

Sometimes God requires silence from us. Often all people really want to know is the Father and what he says about their hurt.

There are times for silence. And silence can be golden.

You will be called to follow.

As you walk with Christ, often you will have to accept some things and do some things you simply don’t understand…just because he tells you to.

The disciples had no idea why Jesus didn’t want them to tell anyone about what they had seen. But they followed and did so simply because Jesus asked them to.

At least half of the time when I read the Bible, I don’t understand why the Father tells me to do certain things. But by his grace, I try to do them simply because he knows what he’s doing and I don’t.

Jesus says that I am to love my enemies. Jesus says that I am to pray for those who persecute me. By God’s grace, I will try to do it when I can. Someday I will understand.

Practically speaking… If you’re making a moral decision and it seems the most expedient way is contrary to what you know God has said, follow him anyway. If you’re in a mess and one simple lie will get you out of the whole thing, tell the truth anyway. If you’re struggling with temptation and it may be easier just to give in, resist the temptation anyway. God the Father leads and you are called to follow.

Even when God isn’t as understandable as we would like, he is our Father and we can trust him.