|photo by Crispin Schroeder - Swamps of Southeast Louisiana|
There is a story in the Gospel of Luke of a couple of disappointed disciples on the road to Emmaus a just days after the crucifixion of Jesus. The mood of disciples is that of despair because they had put all their hopes in Jesus that he was the one who was going to set things right. But everything just looked all wrong from their perspective. It looked like evil had won and that the movement they had thought would change the world would simply end up like all of the other failed messianic movements before them. But while they were walking they were joined by another person in the journey, one who began to tell them the story of what God was doing from the beginning, a story of love and redemption, a story of the overthrow of darkness and the liberation of creation from the tyranny of sin and death. They heard these words as they journeyed and all of the sudden the deep despair and depression they had been feeling began to be broken like rays of sunshine breaking through the clouds. They finally reached their destination and invited this wise mystic-of-a-stranger in to the house with them. Later that evening they found themselves gathered around a table for a meal and this stranger broke some bread to share with them and in that moment their eyes were opened to who this stranger was. It was Jesus! And then he disappeared as mysteriously as he had appeared to them. In that moment all heaven broke loose in their midst and they said, “did not our hearts burn within us as he spoke to us!”
This is one of my favorite stories in the New Testament for several reasons. I love the way that Jesus, almost playfully, reveals himself. He meets them in their longing, in their failed dreams and brings hope in such an amazing and caring way, a way that just oozes love and compassion… and mystery. I like this story because it seems so true to the ways that I have encountered God myself. Sometimes in my most confusing moments when I have become disillusioned, stressed out, or burned out, in moments when I am doing nothing overtly spiritual, sometimes even when I am doing everything I can to run away from life or God even, I bump right into Jesus. And when I do I am left saying the same thing, “Did not my heart burn with in me!”
Sometimes I find myself bumping into God when I am camping with my kids and doing the ordinary stuff that comes with camping like chopping wood or hiking only to find that in the middle of it all God has revealed himself to me. Sometimes it happens in a conversation with someone when all of the sudden I realize that God was speaking to me through this other person. The funny thing is that sometimes it’s a conversation with someone who isn’t even a Christ-follower but someone who in that moment reveals something to me of the truth and beauty of Jesus. There have been times when I have bumped into Jesus at a concert in a dimly lit club and I realize, usually later that Jesus was moving in my heart to reveal himself. Other times I have heard Jesus in a melody, or a lyric of a song or even see him in a scene of a movie. How do I know these things are revelations of Jesus and not just mere inspiration? Because like the early disciples on that road to Emmaus, I get a bad case of holy heartburn—the kind of heartburn you don’t want to cure at all but that you want desperately to continue to invade every aspect of your life.
- When was the last time you had holy heartburn?
- When was the last time you bumped into Jesus in the most unexpected place?