Every once and awhile, lost in the motion of any given week, while tending my conveyer belt filled with all of the squeaky wheels I have to keep greased – I wonder how it is I got here. It’s not that here is such a bad place, it’s just that I thought I’d be somewhere else by now . . . perhaps, someone else by now. No doubt, I am not alone in feeling as if most of my life has been spent on a treadmill – so much going on, while not really going anywhere. Sure, I could choose to step off the treadmill – but what then?
The idea of choice always has a certain allure – as if anything and everything were possible. But if you’ve lived long enough, you likely know what it means to see plan A work its way down through the alphabet . . . until you find yourself, with the noise of squeaky wheels ringing in your ears, trying to remember which plan letter you’re currently on. Until invariably that reoccurring “what if” daydream about plan A begins to whisper its familiar siren song, only to quickly become the mocking voice of disappointment over what might have been.
All of this particularly comes to mind as I think about two weary and emotionally depleted travelers, who were on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24: 13-32). They were on their way back from Jerusalem, where they had just experienced a very dramatic pendulum swing — having met a man who had given them a life changing glimpse of hope, one they would have never imagined possible . . . only to have the religious class haul him in before the roman authorities, eventually ending in a scandalous execution. So with heavy hearts, this familiar road seemed especially long and unforgiving . . . and that’s when, unbeknownst to them, Jesus joined them along their way.
They began to explain to him how everything was on the verge of forever changing . . . and then it all fell apart. Sure there were those still holding out hope – but let’s face it, plan A had just crashed and burned beyond all recognition. At this point Jesus interrupts, telling them that God’s plan involves far more than their narrow expectations were allowing for – suffering isn’t derailment, but an important part of the path that must be traveled. These were likely puzzling and unsettling words for the ears of these weary travelers, as they entered into Emmaus. I mean, what could this stranger possibly know about God’s plan? It was at that point when Jesus broke bread and all was made clear.
On this side of the Resurrection, after having internalized its theological significance, and celebrating it as the centerpiece of our faith — sometimes we think about the road we’re on, and wonder if it’s really going anywhere. We begin to wonder if God is off somewhere else on an extended business trip, leaving us here on our own to figure all this stuff out . . . and that’s when Jesus joins us on that road, reminding us that the plan hasn’t changed. So that we might also say “. . . were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road . . ?” ~ Luke 24: 32
Here’s a song my brother Garrison wrote about the Emmaus Road . . .