Praying til Pentecost Day 16
"...they urged Him, 'Stay with us..." Luke 24:30
The Risen Christ initiated every post resurrection contact with His followers. His true followers desired close, continued, and consistent companionship with Him. The couple on the road to Emmaus had a choice to make. After a heart stirring conversation, they could have politely excused themselves, and let Jesus walk on down the road, and away from them. They chose to invite Him to stay with them and share their evening meal.
Crossroads in life are sometimes seen more easily through the rear view mirror than they are through the windshield of immediate circumstances. Knowing God's will for our lives sometimes feels like a continuous Easter Egg Hunt. Every time we get close to the prized egg someone seems to kick it into the tall grass.
Looking back at choices that have been made in life can be a mixed bag of "What if?" and "Thank God!" There are some choices in life that don't really matter. Mixing a paisley patterned tie with a Madras plaid jacket may be a poor fashion choice, but it probably will not end the world as we know it. There are some decisions that have life changing consequences.
As a six year old boy I found a child sized hunger in my heart for a man sized relationship with God. Through the gentle guidance of my father, I asked all of the Jesus I knew to come in and take over all of the life that I had. This decision was a watershed moment that has had a long lasting impact on every other choice I have made.
The choice to go to East Africa and serve for two years as missionary Journeyman was not made with a great deal of insight or prayer. God used my availability and met me there in Tukuyu, Tanzania. When I was 23 years old, He took my first grade faith and introduced Himself to me with a fresh sense of His power and His Presence. Coming to the end of myself was a great way to come to the beginning of God.
Returning to the States and enrolling at Southwestern Seminary had been a long planned out decision. I had felt God's leading of my life towards Fort Worth as early as October 1973. After my first week of classes, I went to the home of Dr. W. Fred Swank to seek his advice. He told me to find a good church and join it and make yourself indispensable to the pastor. He told me that he only recommended men to serve in churches that he had known to be faithful laymen. He said God would take care of the rest of the details. I joined Sagamore Hill Baptist Church the following Sunday, and met my future wife there the following night. Four months later I was on his church staff. I often wonder what would have happened if I had not taken his sound advice.
So glad I did. Dana and I are in our 34th year of marriage. Good call Bro. Fred!
Over the years the choices in life have been relentless. The one common thread that has run through each of them is my desire to know in some form of fashion WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) I have to confess I was never a fan of wearing the rubber band bracelets imprinted with the letters WWJD. Still, I always appreciated the sentiment behind it. BTW! I found out that during the height of their popularity that the one item shop lifted most out of Christian bookstores was the WWJD bracelets. Got to wonder what was going on in their minds when the five finger discount artists were making that choice!
The two disciples making their way from the scene of a disaster were approached by the Risen Christ. He asked them to tell Him the things that they had been discussing with one another. Sarcastically and resentfully they poured out a laundry list of "What ifs." They were trapped in the pain of the past and the loss of hope for the future. Jesus walked with them and used the Scriptures to unfold what God was about, and as He spoke they had a stirring in their heart that was not there before He arrived. The account in Luke's Gospel says that Jesus acted as if he would go farther, but the couple pleaded with Him to stay and share a meal with them.
I have often wondered what would have happened to them if they had let the moment pass, and let Jesus go on His way. It has become a challenge to me to always make sure I don't ask Jesus to answer my questions about the future, and kick Him to the curb as soon as I find out what I want to know. My walk with God is not so much about knowing about the future, but in getting with Him in the present.
The couple had a choice to make and they chose wisely. They seemed to know instinctively that their future was tied very closely to the continuation of their conversation with this unnamed companion. Their response reminded me of one of my favorite quotes, "Knowing God's will for your life in specifics, comes out of the overflow of a consistent companionship with God." Lloyd John Ogilvie
They did not want the session with Risen Savior to end. When I forget that my walk with Jesus is the next twenty seconds, then I become breathless about the future, and too reflective about the past.
Walking and talking with Jesus brought the couple to one level of God's plan for them. When they invited Him to stay with them, they were taken to a new level of intimacy with Jesus. The power of His prayer over the breaking of the bread seemed to open their eyes to the Risen Christ.
Prayer has the same power today that it did on that evening in Emmaus. Jesus is available to us when we choose to be available to spend time with Him. The life giving power of the resurrection is released through consistent companionship with the One who has conquered death. Spending time in prayer to get answers to our questions about the future is a poor substitute for sitting down and spending time with Jesus and enjoying His companionship in the present. Perhaps we can learn an ancient lesson with contemporary impact on us by repeating the same words to Jesus today..."Stay with us."