One thing God loves to do is uncover treasures in dark places.
I say "uncover" because they're usually already there, like the well He revealed to Hagar in the desert (Genesis 21:19). We just need our eyes opened.
Much like now.
It's post-Resurrection week 2020, and the circumstances we're all still trudging through are starting to really wear on us. This quarantine can sometimes feel like a desert path that drains strength, obscures progress, and seems endless. But this morning, I found encouragement in the events of the very first post-Resurrection week, thousands of years ago. Hopefully, this will be an oasis for you too, as you keep walking.
Luke 24:13-35 tells the story of two disciples traveling from Jerusalem to Emmaus, a name that means "healing." The two men are in need of refreshing, renewal. It's been a grueling week, traveling to Jerusalem for a Passover they'd thought would be victorious, only to watch their Messiah be crucified. Was He the Messiah or not? In a matter of days, their hopes have been turned upside down. Everything they anchored their lives in seems to be scattered and they have to figure out how to pick up the pieces. Now they also have to grapple with the reports of the women who say He's alive again. Of course, they want it to be true, but if it's just wishful thinking, it would be too much to bear.
As they walk along, a man joins them. He seems to be absolutely clueless about the events that have taken place in Jerusalem, so the disciples tell him. It's Jesus, but the disciples are kept from recognizing Him (Luke 24:16).
It's easy to panic when we look at our circumstances and can't recognize Jesus. But He's there. At times, He is disguised so that we learn to find Him in another way.
On this quiet desert path, the disciples have a chance to pour out their hearts, to debrief all that had happened and express all their feelings about it. Sometimes, we are brought into moments that feel empty, devoid of the frantic activity we are used to. We are so quick to want to get back to what feels familiar. Yet, how often do we really pour out all the honesty of our hearts to God?
How often do we lift up to Him all that's going on (in our families, in our churches, in our nations) and invite His Perspective to wash our minds?
As believers, we are His chosen ones and He has a place for us in His Plan. We are not meant to drift through life waiting for heaven where things will automatically make sense. God has invited us into His Plan here and now, and we need His Wisdom in order to walk in the good works He has for us (Ephesians 2:10). How does His Will connect with what is going on around us today?
That is what Jesus outlined for the disciples on that road.
"Beginning with Moses and the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself" (Luke 24:27).
With the crucifixion still looming in their periphery, the disciples were struggling to reconcile the chaos of the previous week with their belief that God had a plan. It had been easy to believe when Jesus had been teaching them on the hillside, but now that He was obscured from their sight, it was harder to comprehend that His Words still held true. I can almost hear Jesus' soft laughter, as He marveled at their slowness to believe and understand the bigger picture.
But Jesus was not teasing them, and He's not teasing us. If He hides things, it is for us and not from us (1 Corinthians 2:9-10). Jesus understood how the Scriptures contained the expansive Heart of the Father, the Plan of Redemption, and hundreds of messianic prophecies fulfilled by Him and He longed to impart His Vision to the disciples.
If you are feeling lost or scattered and not quite sure who you are, dive deeper into Christ. Our identity is secured in Him.
When the disciples stopped for dinner, they begged Jesus to stay and eat with them (Luke 24:28-29).
How do you stay victorious in the midst of the tumult of life? How do you see Jesus everywhere? You don't relegate Him to "church moments". You sit and eat with Him. You invite Him to be the center of every part of your life. He will bless the bread of your everyday and your heart will burn as you realize that He has been there all along (24:30-31). And that faith will carry you farther than you ever would have gone in your own strength.
So what is the point of all this? The point is to be encouraged. Know Him in your desert. That is where He will prove His Love to you and make His Will known to you. Feed on the peace that comes from seeing with His Eyes. Nothing around you is haphazard. God's plans are not falling apart. You are not falling apart. But on the days you break, allow yourself to be broken in His Hands. Because in His Hands, ashes are swept up into flames and broken pieces are molded into beautiful vessels of honor, useful for the Master's glorious Work (2 Corinthians 4:7-9). He has treasure for you in this season.
As you pursue Him, He will continue to be made known to you in the breaking of the bread, in the offering up of your everyday moments to His expansive vision.
This is what we were made for! And it's waiting for us with each new day that dawns. Go for it. Walk with Him, talk to Him, listen to Him. Know that He walks with you on this path. Yes, this one. This annoying, unromantic, daily path. And He transforms everything He touches.