Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Week 3 - Hearts That Burn

That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem.  As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them.  But God kept them from recognizing him.
He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?”  
They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.”
“What things?” Jesus asked.
“The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago.
“Then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report. They said his body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, his body was gone, just as the women had said.”
Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” Then Jesus unfolded to them the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
 By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!
 They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven disciples and the others who had gathered with them, 34 who said, “The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter.”
Luke 24:13-34

When was the last time your heart was moved by the presence of something you didn’t fully understand but somehow knew, felt and experienced?
That’s what followers of Jesus were experiencing on the road as they walked with the Stranger who methodically helped them to connect the dots of all that had been happening with the heart of God. Their own hearts began to “burn” with a new energy, a fire of truth and love.

In our culture, we over-dramatize and manufacture emotion so much that we often remain numb to the real things that ought to move us. We weep at Hallmark commercials, but blankly stare at the evening news. We quickly drive past deteriorating neighborhoods in our own city, but cry when a single family somewhere across the country is awarded a new home on a TV show.

Where are our hearts? Are they on the road? Are they awake and listening to God’s story being unfolded in our lives? Are they burning with the realization that God is redeeming the world right in front of us, where we live, calling us to be a part of His work?

Noticing the energy and activity of the Spirit of Jesus in our hearts is a choice. We can allow God’s heart to take up residence in our heart, or we can just keep moving numbly down the road. Most of us choose to stay numb, because waking up would mean that we would be forever changed and find ourselves running in a new direction. But that is exactly what life is like for followers of Jesus.

The Real Question: When was the last time that I allowed myself to be moved by the heart of God for someone else? How do I allow myself to become numb to what is really happening around me?

Family Talk: What is one thing you noticed that is wrong, unfair or bad and it made you sad or angry?

ONE in Prayer: Jesus, I want my heart to burn with Your heart for the people and situations I see around me. Wake me up with Your Spirit so that I can join You in Your mission of loving and redeeming the world. Amen.

In February 2010, I sat on a plane heading for my first pilgrimage to a third world country.  I had no idea what to expect – what I would experience, how it would impact me, how it would ruin me.  And ruin me it has.  Never before had I loved, cried, hurt or praised God more deeply.  Through these amazing orphaned children, God ripped a hole in my soul.   I now see my comfortable affluent life through these children’s eyes and this revelation demands and screams for a response.   I don’t know the full extent of this response.  Today it is to be aware, to listen, to notice, to not forget, and to share the story with anyone who will listen.  Tomorrow….?
- Jamie

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