Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Road Ahead

You have to look where you are going.

Luke 24:32

New International Version (NIV)
32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

Life is a road.
That seems very general and broad and it's meant to be.
The course of life is everything a road would be described as in it's proverbial sense.
The way of life can be described with every thing you think of concerning the kind of road in front us. The hard pavement. The dusty road. The gravel and stones.
The kind of people we meet and the items that intersect our paths make up much of the description for us as well. The angry motorist, cutting people off. The bugs on the windshield, mucking things up. The person in need of help, thumbing it for a ride or broken down and fixing a flat.
Life has so many descriptions it's hard to know what one piece of the travel calls us to understand our relationship with God in the best light.

Maybe we think of life in more of a description of where we have been and where we are going.
The road of life starts early for us. Our first steps. Our first bike we rode. Our first meaningful words.
There's much we hang on to as we cover this course of life. Things our parents told us. Classes our teachers taught us. The lessons that the cruel reality of life shares with us whether we like it or not.

There are milestones in the road. Places where we stop and hold on to some grand memory of an event or person we cherish and hold, near and dear. Moments we might wish we could forget. Times when a moment of instruction was seared into our memories and we cannot let go of it.

Just such a moment was it for two men walking down a road.

Are they looking where they are going? How many of us think we know where we are going when we leave the house? In the proverbial sense of hindsight, we wish we knew what was coming. After we have left the house and moved on down the road, then it becomes clear what we are getting ourselves into on this journey. These two men thought this walk to Emmaus was going to be a simple time of reliving painful memories of a terrible event gone by. How many of us feel as if we have lost something great? Our high school days. College times. A church that once stood proud and tall. Loved ones that are no longer with us. With these days behind us we think that our best days are over and all we are doing now is waiting out the inevitable. Death will consume us one day as well. Life will run its course. All we have left now is pain and suffering and misery.

High school was painful for me. I'm glad it's over.
But, the bi-product of my time in my hometown was that I began to feel an incredible sense of attachment. I never pictured myself ever leaving. I knew my lineage and family history in the area pretty well. I felt as if I owned the place. People knew my grandfather. Most people knew my dad. I was too naive to realize that might not be a good thing. Very first message I gave to you all when I came to Thornville was on "Introductions". I quoted the Rev Dr Randy Stearns who taught my class on evangelism @ MTSO. His words are forever seared into my mind. "Not everybody is going to like you." If you've never had to move or uproot yourself and go somewhere new, you might feel like you are well known. Everybody knows you and it's easy to feel that maybe everybody likes you. That's painful reality for this road of life. Not everyone is going to enjoy your point of view. Not everyone will be passionate about the same things you're passionate about. Not everybody is going to like you.

I wonder what these two guys on this Emmaus road are thinking.
They decided to take this walk after this moment of "graduation" from the dark terrors of losing someone near and dear to them. Maybe they think there is no hope. Maybe they think there is no direction for their lives now. The events they have just passed leaves them empty and longing. Like a kid without a graduation party. Like a girl not taken to prom. Like a church needing to restore itself.

The truth of the road of life is this. Once you've passed a place in the road, it's impossible to go back without causing a pile up of cars behind you. Jesus uttered some implausible words that are hard for us to wrap our hearts around.

Luke 9:62

New International Version (NIV)
62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

We can't go back. High school is over. College is done. The glory days we recall cannot be relived. But, were they are best days? Is there something better waiting for us? In the road of life, what causes us to stop and turn around thinking we missed something? There is nothing we can do about what happened back there and we cannot bring any of it along with us on our journey. It's just memories now. The idea is whether we sit here longing for those moments to come find us again or whether we trudge on ahead to find new items and new people to create something special.

For us Christians, the idea that Jesus walks with us is a treasure.
These two men walking their road of grief find someone else walking also.
They don't recognize him as someone familiar. They welcome his company and honor his presence.
As they walk and talk, they share what is on their hearts and minds. They give and they receive. However long this walk is there is enough time to delve into all the mysteries they don't understand. This 'new person' in their lives shares great truth with them and their hearts and minds are the better for it. They have a choice to make after receiving the knowledge they have partaken in. They could say, "You know, that all sounds nice and well, but I miss what was back there. I'm going to sit here and hope better days come around again."

Or, they could be transformed by what they experience.
What they see and witness when they enter that house in the village of Emmaus will cause them to get up out of their seats and run back to the people they know with enthusiasm and passion. They have something great to tell. They have something meaningful to share. Would have felt any of that of they would have just sat down at home and said a simple "Ho hum"? The world is brand new and life is worth living because of what they experienced. No sadness or sorrow can overcome that truth that God reveals to us. The only way we lose our enthusiasm is when we look back down the road.

And, so, the moment comes before us. What do we do now that we have reached this climactic moment. Do we gripe and complain? Do we begin some blame game, where all everything around us is wrong because we can't take responsibility for ourselves? It's your fault, mom and dad, for not giving me what I needed. It's your fault, teacher, for not telling em what I needed to know. It's your fault, pastor, for not sticking around longer and doing what we wanted you to do.

Nope. We don't get the luxury. Don't get me wrong here. You can do it if you want. Plenty of people do. Instead of venturing down the road of life and finding out what awaits them people will sit down and start their own complain and gripe fest to somehow satisfy their own selfish wants and cares. If we really want to be happy then we get up off the side of the road, we quit thinking about what was behind us, and we start venturing ahead.

Will we scrape our knees on the pavement? Maybe.
Will we fall down and hurt something? Maybe.
Will we need help because we don't where we are going or what we are doing? Most certainly.

The alternative is to sit here and go nowhere.

And, you can't get where you're going just sitting here.

No comments:

Post a Comment