Letters from the Fire13
“The Road to Emmaus, or the We Had Hoped Syndrome.”
How many times have you believed God spoke to you, believed that what he said was going to come to pass, only to have your hopes crushed and your dreams shattered? Then in an attempt to make sense of it all you are forced to reassess this God you thought you knew? Perhaps you did some downgrading, trimmed down you expectations and desires, or you told yourself not to stick your neck out like that anymore. Or maybe you fought long and hard so it took years for your hopes to fall apart despite your valiant efforts. For some of you this road has become all too familiar, and you have grown distant from God, not wanting to be hurt and disappointed anymore but trying to keep some semblance of a relationship.
So what does a Christian do after the crash and the twisted wreckage? My pastor Michael spoke about how the disciples faced similar circumstances after Jesus’ death. All their hopes died with him and they were going back home with their tails between their legs, back to their old jobs and old lives. It is there when Jesus comes to them but they fail to recognize him. How ineffectual it seems that he would come near and be unrecognizable. How awful it must be to be in so much pain, have God near, and not even know it. We’re so desperate for comfort, answers, and direction, some type of response back, but encounter nothing but silence. Doesn’t he care? Yet, as Michael said, God will not compromise himself by coming to us the way we want him to. Still, how sad it is that we can’t recognize him even though he comes with all his godness and power. But then I began thinking and wondering if perhaps God is more relational with us than we ever dreamed. He comes in all his fullness, refusing to give us anything less than the best - himself. Could it be that the problem is not with God but with us? That the maze of our human reasoning and our sin sick desires repeatedly leave us with a knowledge and understanding so twisted, crippling, and myopic, it leave us both blind and sick hearted? So as we crumple in a heap, reaching the end of ourselves, he is right there beside us to heal our spiritual blindness and restore our diseased hearts. But allowing him to heal us means drawing close to him in the midst of unanswered questions and insurmountable pain. I believe this is the key – waiting, trusting, and allowing the Doctor to perform the needed surgery. It must be on his terms. Yet, it is in this place that desire for him burns bright once again, we recognize him afresh and nothing else seems to matter anymore in the context of his presence. There is no doubt that we will end up on this road once again. But we can remind ourselves that he is there walking beside us, ready to give to us what we truly need.