Jesus, what’s going on?

Published 9:00 am Friday, April 20, 2012

Accross the Pastor’s Desk

By the Rev. Ken Jensen, Retired ELCA pastor

“While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.” — Luke 24:15-16.

Life is a journey. It has a beginning and an ending. Along the way we encounter moments of excitement, success and joy. We also experience moments of disillusionment, defeat and despair.

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Luke records the story of two individuals walking a seven-mile journey from Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus. It is late afternoon Easter Day. They were discussing the lead story in the Jerusalem Times as it were. It was about Jesus of Nazareth, a charismatic leader, healer and teacher who had attracted and inspired a large audience. Whatever dreams they may have had had come crashing down. Three days previous, Jesus had been crucified as a common criminal. His disciples, fearing for their lives, had hidden behind locked doors. Now, there were reports he was alive. What was going on?

At this point Jesus joins them on their journey, but they do not recognize him. Only later, while sharing an evening meal together, do the two come to recognize it was Jesus who walked with them.

In 1936, a young Mary Stevensen began writing and delivering handwritten copies of “Footprints in the Sand” to people who were in need of a word of comfort. Within a decade her poem became cherished by people around the world.

Mary related a dream in which she noticed two sets of footprints in the sand as she walked along a beach. One belonged to her and the other to the Lord. She noticed that in times of trouble there was only one set of footprints. She wondered why, in her most difficult moments, the Lord had abandoned her?

The Lord responded saying he had never left her in times of trial and suffering. The one set of footprints were the times when he had carried her.

When life is humming along beautifully we feel richly blessed by God. Yet, when grief and hopelessness come our way we feel abandoned by God. The story of the two on their journey to Emmaus is a reflection of Mary Stevenson’s and our journeys through life.

There are times when people, places or events open our eyes to see the God who was with us on the mountain is also the God who walks with us in the valley. The God with us in the day is also with us in the night. One set of footprints reminds us there is never a time when we are alone.