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Seeking Peace Along a Hard Road

Blessed Father, we desire to break bread with You, to walk with You & enjoy Your company. Make our hearts burn within us as we meet with You, unfolding Your Word in our hearts. Help us to see, hear & gain wisdom. Prepare us for the difficulties & joys of the day, so we may rely on You & give You glory no matter what may come. We seek You out for these blessings of faith & for the sake of Your glory being shown through us.
We pray this in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Luke 24: 13-35
13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

I long for these moments & experiences. As Christians, we long for the Lord’s presence, we desire to walk with Him, listen to Him & experience what these two experienced along the road to Emmaus. There is no greater joy than to be able to give our whole selves over to the will & mystery of the Lord, to be bundled up in His arms & to close out every sound but the sweetness of His voice. Swift & powerful, His tongue comforts & convicts, He cuts to the root of our sin & draws us up into the highest heaven. It is almost indescribable. But we long for these moments. We want every weekend worship gathering to be a place where we meet with Him like this, every moment spent in the Word like this, every encounter with a stranger, friend or family member like this when we share our faith with them.

But we must also be reminded of these two on the road. They were consumed, troubled & sad. They had expectations, desires for redemption & they wanted to see God’s hand move in a mighty & powerful way. And it took Jesus’ presence to bring them comfort. His Words, His presence, His laughter, teaching & prayer to open their eyes to what God had done & was continuing to do.

If we would feel His presence, then we must draw near & listen. We must hear what He says, and leave behind what fills our mind, giving it all over to Him in these moments where we need to draw near. While Jesus spoke, they were silent. They listened. They didn’t interrupt every third word, they weren’t engrossed in another activity. Their focus was undivided & therefore laser focused on everything He had to say. It was time spent just with Jesus. Unrushed, untouched, unadulterated. Just them & just Him.

If we want to feel the comforting presence of Jesus, then we need to give Him our attention. We need to listen & remove distractions. If we are broken & hurting inside, if life’s events are too much to handle & understand, then we need to trust Him with those moments & draw near to Him & Him alone.

Praise God for His Holy Spirit who can & does walk with us, even within us, through these moments of our day-to-day life. What a precious gift to know He is with us, moving, present & speaking to us. We simply need to seek Him out for peace & be still, trusting in His footsteps along the way.

Father, we bless Your holy Name! We praise the movement of Your Word in our hearts!
Teach us to listen & be still. remind us of Your presence & may we feel that sweet stillness in our spirits as we draw near to You along life’s road. Again, we pray in Jesus’ Name, amen.

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taking the old roads…

(unmarked journal entry – presumably matthew 28)

one more act of faith…

even though they have been hiding out in jerusalem, Jesus tells His disciples to meet Him in galilee, rather than just meeting them there in jerusalem. they must come out of hiding, walk publicly all those miles to their old stomping grounds to see Him and hear from Him. so, as they walk, talk and remember, they get mentally and emotionally closer to where they were before, before the Passion took place. this time, this simple walk, allowed time for healing, for a renewing of the mind, and an assurance that they weren’t just seeing things in that upper room.

He had indeed risen just as He told them He would, and they came to an understanding of how He had told them about all of this, even though they may have tried to dismiss some of it at the time, because they didn’t want it to happen. but now, as they stand with Him, things start to come back into focus.

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there is definitely something to be said about journaling, and spending time thinking back through your walk with Christ. traveling down roads you once walked, hearing the same messages again. playing over events in your mind…just spending time reminiscing with Him. this walk brought the disciples out of their fear and helped to clear their cluttered minds.

sometimes a simple change of location for a little while, with some purposeful quiet time, can help bring back all that we have been through with God, and He can definitely use that time to help us remember who we once were, and what roads He has faithfully brought us down to the point where we are today.

reflection and meditation are fantastic tools to help affirm what we believe, and to clear out any cobwebs of uncertainty. as we walk, and remember, we can see again, through wiser eyes, the events that have shaped us, and appreciate what God has been doing in our lives all this time. look back, while walking forward, and meet with Jesus with a renewed zeal and appreciation for what He has done. then tell someone about it, too.

and then He came walking by…

having never been to the sea of galilee in the 1st century, i have no idea just how many people would have been at work along its northern shores on a given day. i don’t know who, besides fisherman and merchants might have been actively moving up and down its shorelines, plying their trades and trying their best to scrape out a living. i have never pictured them as a wealthy looking bunch. no bright colored clothing, no haughty attitudes, just a bunch of regular workmen going about their business. laughing here, complaining about taxes and the emperor’s cronies there, telling stories about how old ishmael tipped his boat over last summer and lost his catch…that sort of thing.

nothing you wouldn’t expect to see in a movie where Jesus has a british accent.

so, in my mind’s eye, nothing spectacular or strange is going on. and then He came walking by…

that teacher from nazareth, the one who had pulled the zebedee boys from their dad’s business, and had also grabbed peter and andrew, too. He walked down the shore, in the midst of commerce and the regular work day. He taught, but not like the leaders of the day. He taught with an authority that made you stop whatever it was you were doing, just to listen. and you didn’t mind the down time form work just to hear what He had to say. He was different. He seemed to genuinely care about everyone, almost like He knew them before they knew Him. He was a welcome relief to the work day.

He had passed by his booth many times already. but today, He he stops by the booth of levi, that traitorous tax collector. exacting his pound of flesh for the emperor out of his own people. why would He talk to him? He was a jew, He knew what those traitors were like. this one, this levi, had a gentile father and he was a tax collector. he may as well have pushed down the old women who walked by and finished his reputation completely off.

but then He came walking by…

when He called out to levi, and told him to come along, i have never seen a face look confused, relieved, happy and sad all at once like that.

this turncoat was being called into the company of a man that we were already a little perplexed by. why would He want to spend time with him? and then levi completely leaves everything behind. not a mite was slipped into his belt before he left. he simply walked away from it all.

that made me stop, really stop what i was doing and listen to Him. all He said was ‘follow me’ and something in my heart wished that He had spoken those words to me, too.

so now, levi was walking with Him. he had a spring in his step that he never had before. he either walked with a smug, strong step, or with his eyes down and dragging his feet. usually the former in the morning and the latter at the end of the day. maybe we did give him a hard time. maybe we shouldn’t have been so hard on him when we were kids…but he did have a gentile father, and his name was almost like his mother was trying to make up for that fact. he was named after the preistly tribe, but was nowhere close to priestly. he could never have served in the temple even if he was from their family.

and then He came walking by, pulled levi out of his stuffy little booth where he stole from us all just to get back at us. if those soldiers hadn’t been there with him every day, he would have never made a coin off of us. but he walked away from all of that like he couldn’t wait to get away from it. like he had been chained up in that booth every day of his life until today. and today he flew from there like a stone from a sling. all because of those two words ‘follow me.’

spoken so simply, as a gentle plea, but bearing a weight greater than a direct command from caesar himself. i don’t think any force on earth could have kept levi in that booth. i doubt any of us would have done any different in his shoes. it was the first time anyone had shown him kindness (that wasn’t his own mother) in years.

i had been wondering about the Teacher, and what He had to say, but now i knew there was something definitely different about Him. something deeper was going on beneath those waters. and if levi could find acceptance with Him, maybe the next time He comes walking by, i may find the same.

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like i said, i cannot say with any authority what the north shore of galilee’s work day would have looked like. i have a general idea, and my imagination…but my guess is that the calling of levi was something that was definitely out of the norm.

Father, forgive me when i mistreat others. forgive me when i form ideas about their worth or presume to know what goes on inside their hearts. i am enough of a mess on my own without trying to figure out others lives as well.

guide me into greater compassion. guide me into Your wisdom and discernment so that i can help those who are chained in their booths.

Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.

Spirit, have mercy.

amen.

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