When We Can’t See Him

And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem.  And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place.  While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them.  But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him.  

And He said to them, “What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?”

And they stood still, looking sad.  One of them, named Cleopas, answered and said to Him, “Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?”  

And He said to them, “What things?”

And they said to Him, “The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him.  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.  But also some women among us amazed us.  When they were at the tomb early in the morning, and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive.  Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just exactly as the women also had said; but Him they did not see.”

And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!  Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?”  Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets,  He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

And they approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though He were going farther.  But they urged Him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over.”

So He went in to stay with them.  When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them.  Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight.  They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?”  ~ from Luke 24:13-32

I sure do recognize myself in these disciples on the road to Emmaus.

These two ~ one named as Cleopas ~ are perplexed and full of sorrow as they travel.  They look at the world in front of them and they do not understand what they are seeing ~ the One they had put their trust in had been betrayed and killed… and now, according to the women, not even His body remained in the place they’d left Him.

Nothing was going as they’d expected.  Everything was falling apart.

Like those two disciples, I can’t always see His purpose in the falling-apart-world we live in.  I can’t always see His work unfolding.  I can’t always see Him in the circumstances around me.  Sometimes we look at what the day brings and wonder why it unfolds in such a way… Our hearts cry out ~ we were hoping for something different, something we think is better, something we can understand.

But this scene shows us plainly ~ He is in these moments with us even while we can’t yet recognize Him.  He has already redeemed all that seems lost.

These disciples on the road to Emmaus knew the promises Jesus had spoken ~ they know the promises of God ~ but they did not understand the way those promises were being fulfilled.

As they walked, Jesus explained it all to them.  Point by point, Jesus explained God’s purposes to them, including His own part in the redemption-plan… because they couldn’t put it all together themselves.  They couldn’t see the whole story.

They only knew what they had hoped for ~ that Jesus would be the one to redeem Israel.

This sure sounds familiar to me… and, perhaps, it is also pretty close to how you have felt.  We have hoped for a certain outcome ~ only to find something entirely different on our path.  We have waited for the move of God, only to end up perplexed by His choice of where and how He chooses to work.  When faith does not reconcile with our sight, sometimes it is just plain hard to hold onto our trust in God.  And in these moments, sometimes I have been slow of heart to believe.

But the two disciples found that Jesus did fulfill their hope… through the ways of God that are higher and infinitely wiser than the plans of mankind, He redeemed Israel and all who would ever believe in His name as Son of God and Savior.  Through the words of Jesus, they began to understand ~ God’s purpose had not been shaken.

And as we put our trust in Him, as we open our hearts to receive His Word, as time unfolds… we will find that He is using all the details of our lives to write a story that is best for our eternal-hearts… one that will bring us closer to Him, one that will bring Him glory.

When He broke the bread on that day, the disciples knew Him.  And with His words in their hearts ~ hearts that had burned within them as He spoke ~ they understood that the full picture was an entirely different one than what their vision had been able to take in.

There are times when we suddenly see why things have happened as they have… and we are reminded that our God is in control… we are reminded that our hope is in One who always loves us and never fails us. We get a glimpse of the eternal perspective of our situations.  We are able to see that He has been with us all along… going before us, directing our path to get us to the place we need to be.

And I believe that these moments are the ones we need to hold close, so that our faith begins to grow… so that the next time our situation causes us to doubt and to fear, we will remember ~ He is still in control.  He is still with us.  We will know that all things are working for the good of those who love Him (Romans. 8:28), even when the working-out part seems like it will never end… even when it means suffering.

There are times when we may not get our answers here on this earth.  But one day, when His kingdom comes, He will break the bread for us and we, too, “shall see face to face.”  We will “know fully”, even as we are fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

If we are in these circumstances now, may His peace that ‘passes all understanding’ (Philippians 4:7) guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus… may we remember that His promises are life and freedom, healing and power, love and grace…and no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. (2 Cor. 1:20)

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.
~ Hebrews 10:23

Now faith is confidence is what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
~ Hebrews 11:1

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are My ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return to it without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is My word that goes out from My mouth:
It will not return to Me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills will burst into song before you;
and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
and for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever.”
~ Isaiah 55:8-13

“For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you,
Do not fear; I will help you.”
~ Isaiah 41:13

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