A friend of mine phoned the other day, it was a hard day. A very hard day, full of pain and well, hard things. She has been walking a difficult path for the past several months and she’s weary.
I don’t blame her. I’d be weary too if I was walking in her shoes. I haven’t walked exactly in her shoes but I’ve walked through some hard, difficult, pain-filled places as my feet trod the dirt and dust of earth.
In the wake of this conversation with my friend, I dug out the notebook journals I’ve been keeping for the past year or so of my own journey with Jesus. I’ve wanted to refresh my memory of the hard paths I’ve taken and the faithfulness of Jesus.
I didn’t have to read very far before I found encouragement for my friend and for anyone else who finds herself on a hard, painful path of life.
I had been pondering the two headed to Emmaus and why they didn’t recognize Jesus at all. Luke 24 records the story for us. It isn’t immediately clear (and you’d have to ask a Bible scholar to find out if my thoughts are correct) but I suppose the two on the road were disciples. The could have been two of the twelve disciples. I’ve always thought they were, but they could also just be 2 men who followed Jesus. Ultimately it doesn’t matter.
It’s possible they didn’t recognize Jesus simply because they didn’t expect to see Him or hear Him. It’s also possible, I suppose, that they weren’t His sheep yet. (“My sheep hear My voice and they know Me.” John 10:27) It’s possible they followed Jesus, but at a distance and without having made a personal decision to follow Him and for Him to be their Shepherd.
But maybe it’s none of those things. Maybe they were just so focused on their own pain that they couldn’t really see anything else. All they could hear was the loud, raucous voice of their pain shouting at them that life isn’t fair.
And Saviors don’t die.
And maybe their pain deceived them into thinking they had trusted and believed a lie, and now they are left feeling duped, dumb, and unable to believe life could ever be good again.
Then Jesus steps in and teaches them. I can only focus on one thing at a time. I can’t focus on Jesus and my pain at the same time. Whichever one I choose to focus on grows, it blinds my eyes and closes my ear to the other. If I choose to focus on my pain and make that more real than my Jesus, my Jesus and my ability to see Him, to hear His voice fades into nothingness.
But when I choose to–in my pain–focus on Jesus, while the pain remains I can clearly see Him and hear His voice. I can feel His gentle ministrations to my wounded soul in pain.
Both pain and Jesus consume,
And I get to choose what consumes me.
When Jesus consumes me–
pain doesn’t stand a chance.
It cannot stay around long.
Life is still hard.
Life is still painful.
But Jesus breathes His Life,
His Light, His grace, His Presence
Into pain-filled, broken places.
Right here, right now in this very moment, in this very pain-filled and painful moment, consume me for Yourself with Your self.
Be my single focus.
My single devotion.
For Your glory,
And I will not cease to praise
Your Name, because
You are good.
You are good to me.
You are good at being God.
And I, I am not.
So please, I’ll let You be God,
And I’ll submit to You as
Your little lamb.
Please lead me–
Walk beside me,
Laugh with me,
Hold my hand.
Right here, right now I choose
To believe You completely.
I choose to submit myself wholly