The Associate Vicar Writes
One of my favourite New Testament stories is that journey and encounter on the road to Emmaus. A story portrayed in a famous painting by Caravaggio. It is later the same day, after the resurrection, and two of Jesus’ disciples are journeying towards Jerusalem. They are spending time together, talking with each other about all the events of recent days. As they journey Jesus joins them and walks with them, but they are kept from recognising who he is. They share with him all that had happened, how they were feeling, the real rollercoaster of emotions that confronted them.
As they reach their destination the stranger is invited to join them and shares a meal with them. It is as he shares the meal and breaks bread that Jesus is recognised by them and they know the full reality of the resurrection. Jesus was alive, he had risen.
For those disciples, Jesus’ presence among them was recognised and they could rejoice. I wonder—how do you know and recognise the presence of God in your lives? Like those disciples, Jesus walks with us day by day, every day. Sometimes it is easy, we can feel and are indeed fully aware of his presence. We know His light is shining on us and we can feel enveloped in his love and concern for us. Our hearts, like those disciples are on fire for him.
However, at other times, when life seems tough and we experience difficulties, God, it seems, is distant and we may even feel that he has abandoned us. We know and have probably experienced these desert times. Times even of desolation and abandonment. It is in these times also that God does walk with us, but we perhaps are kept from recognising or even are able to acknowledge his presence with us. And that is why we have those tendencies towards despair and abandonment. A spark, a ray of light may suddenly come into the darkness to re-ignite and bring us back in to his presence.
God never does abandon us, even though we may shut him out. He loves us with an everlasting love, which is beyond our comprehension. It is at these difficult times we need to remind ourselves of this and even though we may be kept from recognising him, he IS there.
May we know the reality of the presence of God in the ups and downs of life.