Alongside: Experiencing Jesus With Us Every Day -Week 3
Know the One Who Walks With You
Take a look at your feet. I know, seems like a strange request, but go ahead and do it. Where have those feet been? What roads have they traveled? What mountains climbed? Where have they taken you that has led to good things or through rough things? I'm sure your feet have many stories to share, and I'm also confident that they have not gone it alone. It's the awareness of this fact that I believe makes a difference. As I think about all the tasks ahead of me, the real or metaphorical paths I might travel or conquer, my hope is to be ever aware of God's presence with me, and I have the same hope for you.
With the arrival of summer, I am excited about upcoming vacations and time with family. But as in any season, some days don’t feel like vacation. There are still the things of life, both good and difficult, that can keep me from remembering the ONE THING that matters.
In last week’s reading from Luke 10, Mary got this one thing that was important when she made the choice to sit at Jesus’s feet and listen to him, but Martha didn’t. She was busy working and preparing dinner, and felt annoyed with Mary for not helping. When she expressed this frustration to Jesus, his answer was not what she expected.
Jesus said, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
This has been a favorite passage of mine for a very long time, one that I try to recall whenever I am upset with the details, feeling stressed or frustrated in the moment. I really only need to focus on the fact that Jesus is with me, and that he will help me. That focus will always lead to a result that is in line with his will and consequently, better than anything I do without the awareness and sharing of his presence.
All of last week’s readings were meant to help us focus on Jesus and the value of his presence. They were meant to be reminders of what he says, which is often very different than what we or the world might say. In Luke 4, for example, we saw Jesus in the wilderness, where he was able to combat Satan’s temptations and lies by knowing the truth of God’s word. This is a reminder for us to do the same. We can turn to his word when we’re in our own wilderness, and while we are obviously not Jesus, we can still follow his example of relying on and obeying God to the best of our ability when things are hard.
Luke 12: 6-7 was short and sweet, but so powerful as a reminder of our reason to not be afraid because we are “more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.”
The final Luke passage from last week, The Walk to Emmaus in Luke 24:13-49, is the one which actually inspired the title of this series: Alongside: Experiencing Jesus With Us Every Day. After spending significant time reflecting on this passage, I am still not tired of it. In fact, I think I love it more every time I read it.
Theologian Tom Wright says of this passage: “Learn to live inside this story and you will find it inexhaustible.”
I would agree with that thought. As we read this passage, we see the Jesus who reaches out to two followers who were sad and perplexed over Jesus’s death on the cross. They needed him to remind them of his truths and promises. As they were talking, Jesus simply walks up beside them and says, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?”
While God keeps them from recognizing him during the walk, they continue to share all that they have witnessed, Jesus’s miracles and teachings, his death on the cross, the miraculous sighting by the women who saw that Jesus’s body was missing from the tomb where angels told them he had risen. In sharing this, they express some disappointment, some sadness, some wonder over everything that has occurred.
When they finally recognize Jesus, and then he disappears, the two say to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32
Their hearts burned within. I’m thinking that might be why they asked him to stay with them when the journey to Emmaus had ended. They still didn’t know it was Jesus, but something about this man made them want to be with him more. He had warmed their heart and souls with his words and his presence, and he still does this today.
Charles Spurgeon says, “When two are talking together, Jesus is very likely to come and make the third one in the company. Talk of him, and you will soon talk with him.”
In other words, as I spend time with and talking about Jesus, I find his presence. That’s what usually gets me writing about him. I find it’s where I meet him. It’s where I hear him and feel at peace with his love and truth. On days when I feel like what I write might not matter to anyone who reads it, I remember that it might simply be me who needs it, for no other reason than to enjoy him alongside me as I do.
So what is that thing for you? What do you do that brings you some peace, some joy, some awareness of his presence? Is it singing? Listening to music? Drawing or painting? Playing an instrument? Walking? Dancing? Playing a sport? Being outside in nature? Going on adventures? Being with others and talking about him? Whatever it is for you, simply enjoy doing it with him, with no pressure on what the outcome is, whether you’re the greatest at it or not. Simply enjoy doing it with Jesus alongside you.
Then on another note, what are the hard things in your days, the things that don’t bring much peace or joy? How can you remind yourself that he is with you there too? For me, it’s often repeating a verse, phrase, or prayer in my head that tells me he is there, he is with me, he is for me, he walks with me, his hand upholds me and guides me.
This week, as we read the passages I suggest, jot down what words might be these reminders for you. Maybe post them where you’ll see them regularly. If you’re the artistic or creative type, try writing them in bold, fun lettering and coloring or painting around them. Also, if you don’t already do this, find someone who you can talk to about what you read. Share your thoughts about your faith, your questions, your wonders, your moments when you’ve noticed him.
My prayer for you this week is that you feel and notice his presence, in the good and the bad, the joyful and the difficult, and know that he hears you, loves you, and promises to stay by your side no matter what.
Have a blessed week, alongside the one who loves you most.
This week’s suggested readings:
Suggested Journal Prompts:
1. As mentioned, try jotting down the words and phrases that remind you of Jesus with you in any of the passages this week.
2. What do you notice about the way Jesus reaches out to people? How does he treat Zacchaeus, for example, in Luke 19? How does he welcome the disciples and Peter in John 21? What does he remind them? What does he want to remind you of today?
3. What words of comfort do you find in Psalm 23 and 34 that you can copy and remember?
4. Go for a walk and pay attention to God's creation, his fingerprints all over as reminders of him with you. Then journal what you've noticed when you return and/or write a prayer of thanks for all God gives us each day.
5. Thank God for all the places he and your feet have taken you.