Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Journey to Emmaus...

     There are blogs I don't hesitate to write and then there are blogs that I wait on for quite a length of time. This is one of those. I wait for a variety of reasons. This time I waited because I thought it would be one of those things that I would write about in the future, after I came through to the other side of things. Since it keeps being brought to the forefront of my mind, it seems that it is for now. My prayer is that this post will speak to you and encourage you, should you find yourself on your own journey to Emmaus.

     Two months ago I was painting the deck. There is something about being outdoors alone, that instantly quiets my soul and invites me to talk to God. As I was painting I began to talk to Him about our family's circumstances and I asked Him to give us a clear direction for our lives. It has been three years since my husband's lay off and he had just applied for several jobs...all of which would require us to move out of the area should he get hired. As I continued to paint in the silence that followed, I heard Him say, "Go read about the road to Emmaus." I wasn't really sure why I needed to read that but curiosity got the best of me. I took a break to go read.

     The road to Emmaus takes place in Luke 24 after Jesus was crucified and after He appeared to the women at the tomb. Two of the apostles are walking to the village of Emmaus. As they walk together they begin discussing everything that has taken place. During their journey Jesus approaches them and begins to travel with them. In verse sixteen it tells us that "their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him". He asks them what they are talking about and they say, "Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?" Or in modern language, "What rock did you crawl out from under?!"  Jesus doesn't miss a beat and replies, "What things?" They tell Him all about Jesus and the crucifixion. In verse twenty two they even share their disappointment with Him and say, " But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened."  Finally, they tell Him about the empty tomb. Jesus responds by taking them on a Scriptural tour of sorts. He explains beginning with Moses all of the things concerning Himself in the Scriptures. Eventually they reach the village. He appears to be going farther, and they convince Him to stay with them. He agrees. It isn't until they are sitting at the supper table and He blesses the bread, breaks it, and begins giving it to them that their eyes are opened and they recognize Him. Can you imagine their shock when they realize that they had been with Jesus that whole time and didn't know it?!

     I had read this passage before, but never before was I able to see myself so much in those apostles... until that day when I was painting the deck.  At that moment in time my husband and I were just like the apostles. We were walking on our own road to Emmaus, talking about all that had happened in our lives these past three years, thinking about how God hadn't shown up in the ways we thought He would or expected Him to, feeling the length of our journey, and wondering what direction we needed to go in. Were we even on the right path? Had we missed something? Had we missed God's will for us in our search for it? Just as it was with the apostles, God has been walking this road with us all along and listening to our conversations. Sure we have seen and recognized His faithfulness and provision for us on the journey, but there are ways in which like the apostles our eyes were prevented from recognizing Him. After all, how many times did we silently wonder where He was and strive to search out his will? Just like the apostles had hoped that Jesus was going to redeem Israel and were disappointed that instead He was crucified, we had hoped that God would have provided us with a full time job by now. We had expectations just like them, and our own timeline just like them. Yet here was Jesus the whole time...listening to them, walking with them, and finally educating them. He took the time to school them on the Scriptures pertaining to Himself starting with Moses. It's Him saying, "This is where I have been all along. There has been this master plan from the beginning and you don't have to strive to see what it is." Still, they don't recognize Him until He breaks bread. They had been searching for Him in the mind blowing, extraordinary, out of their control things that had happened to them. He was right there in the ordinary every day act of breaking bread. So it is with us.

     I read about the road to Emmaus that day and went back to painting the deck, but I haven't stopped thinking about it. It keeps following me around. I think it's because I can relate so well. The biggest thing the apostles expected Jesus to do was to redeem Israel. The biggest thing I expected God to do was to supply us with a job by now. The apostles were three days past the crucifixion and feeling every minute of it, waiting for something to happen. I am three years into the journey and feeling every bit of it. You know, Jesus did so much more than redeem Israel. His plan was so much bigger and better than what the apostles had hoped for. He redeemed all of mankind. He conquered death. What I have been waiting for may very well be much smaller than what God has planned. Perhaps I am still waiting because I have underestimated Him. I still can't get past the fact that they recognized Jesus only after He broke bread and gave it to them. They had just spent all that time walking and talking with Him, trying to wrap their minds around the events that had just taken doubt in search of some answers. It makes me wonder how many times  I strive for answers or strive to know His will, when all I need to do is recognize Him in the ordinary and keep on walking on the very road that He has been walking with me all along. I asked God for clear direction that day when I was painting. I received clear direction. We are to keep on walking on the road He has us on. Maybe the reason why the story of the road to Emmaus keeps following me around is because I need to remember it.

     I need to remember that I will miss the will of God for my life when I strive for it. That doesn't mean that I should give up asking God to show me His will. It simply means that while I wait for Him to reveal it to me, I continue to faithfully walk the road He currently has me on. If I am faithful to walk with Him on the road He already has me on, I will likely find that I will walk right into His will. This walking or journeying with Him comes back to that word that I have been holding tight to for some time now. The word abide. When I abide I am at rest in Him. There is no striving, no wondering where He is, and  no feeling every minute of the three year journey. When I abide, I have already recognized Him because I am sitting across the table with Him in the ordinary...breaking bread.

     How about you? Are you on a long journey too? Do you strive to know what direction to go in or what God's will is for your life? Stop striving and abide. Keep putting one foot in front of the other walking with Jesus on the road He has you on. Take comfort in knowing that He is with you and you don't journey alone. If you continue to journey with Him, He will walk you right into His will. We long for Him to show up big, to take care of those things that seems so big to us...but He is already at work doing what is truly needed. He has already shown up in the most important place of all...the ordinary. It's in the ordinary that we learn how to rest in Him.


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