Is there a connection between “place” and “Aha Moments?” Peter’s experience in Caesarea Philippi certainly seems to say there can be. Maybe it’s happened to you in one of your favorite locations. I know it happens to me every time I attend an Alpha Day-Away Retreat.
This year’s Winter Alpha Course attendees held their Day-Away Retreat at Failla Villa in Ramona. The site is really a luxury home, complete with swimming pool, two Jacuzzis, a camp fire pit, an outdoor terrace with a grill and pizza oven, two tennis courts, a miniature golf course, and more. But luxuries aside, every inch of it has been claimed for the purpose of strengthening and refreshing those who need it most – but especially Christian believers. In the guest book you’ll find entry after entry of how God has refreshed hearts and revealed himself to those who gather in this place.
As I’ve been thinking about Jesus taking the disciples to Caesarea Philippi for some time alone together, I can’t help but think there can be a connection between “Aha Moments” (like Peter’s confession) and special “places.” As we know from Pastor Sean’s message, Caesarea Philippi was known as a place of great spiritual activity, one of the most lush and beautiful places in Palestine, with groves of trees, grassy fields, water in abundance and majestic mountain peaks. The difference between Caesarea Philippi and Failla Villa, of course, is found in the icons of worship on display and in the hearts and minds of those who enter these spaces. Caesarea Philippi boasted statues of Pan and other Greek gods. Our God came in the flesh and dwelt among us. His means of reconciliation and relationship was the cross. He left us, not with statues of stone, but with the power of the Holy Spirit.
One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is time away to ponder the true identity of the One we worship. Although Mark doesn’t say specifically, Jesus and the disciples may have spent six days in Caesarea Philippi since what follows in his gospel is the telling of the Transfiguration story (Mark 9), possibly on Mt. Hermon? (Scripture only mentions a “high mountain.”) How often is it that we have trouble finding six minutes, let alone six days to be with Jesus? But each of us has a choice, don’t we? Jesus said, “For everyone who ask receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matt. 7:8). So this week, I want to encourage you, my friends, to come away to that special “place” and spend time with Jesus. Who knows what the next “Aha Moment” will be for you!