How often do we fail to see Jesus present and acting in our lives because we do not expect it? The circumstances fall outside the paradigm we have established for ourselves, and we don’t recognize him.
This apparently happened to the disciples on the day of the resurrection when two of them did not recognize Jesus as he began walking with them to the village of Emmaus. He asked what they were discussing, and they told him about how Jesus of Nazareth, a prophet powerful in word and deed, had been handed over to authorities and crucified. Now, to their amazement, some women had reported that they had seen a vision of angels who told them that he was alive. Jesus then proceeded to explain the scriptures to them of how the Christ had to suffer all of these things to enter into his glory.
Not until Jesus joined them for supper and broke the bread did they recognize him. “Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 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?’” (Luke 24:32)
Why didn’t they recognize Jesus? They weren’t expecting to see him because they thought he was dead. The resurrection did not conform to their paradigm. Even though Jesus had previously told them that he was going to suffer, die and be raised up, they could not comprehend it.
When our last child, Emily, was born we were shocked to learn that she had Down syndrome. We were expecting the usual “normal” baby who could serve to be a playmate to a brother that had been born a couple of years earlier and round out our family of five children.
Initially, I did not recognize God’s presence in Emily’s birth and all of the blessings he would bring to our family through her. A child with a disability was outside my paradigm. But then, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, God begin to open my eyes and share his mind with me and his love for his special children – children who never offend him as we do, who never pervert the work of his hands as we often do, children who have no guile, but only purity of heart.
God often comes to us in people and circumstances that we do not expect in order to reveal a truth or take us to a new level in our relationship with him. Sometimes he wants us to take his place in opening the eyes of another to his presence. We know it is him when our hearts burn within us.
Today, Emily celebrates her 28th birthday, and our family will see Jesus through her beautiful smile, her many hugs and a special joy that transcends her disability.
Is there a paradigm in your life that is preventing you from seeing Jesus?