Have you ever experienced the presence of the Lord and not wanted to let go of the moment?
Two of the disciples had such an experience on the road to Emmaus where they were walking and discussing the events of Jesus’ death and recent reports of angels appearing to some of the women saying that he was alive. Jesus comes up alongside of them, though they do not recognize him. He asks what they are talking about and observes how slow of heart they are to believe all that was written about him. He then explains what Moses and the prophets wrote about him.
As they approached the village and Jesus acted as if he was going farther, they asked him to stay with them. They subsequently recognize Jesus when he breaks bread, but he then disappears from their sight. As they later observed, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32)
Has your heart ever burned within you, indicating the presence of God? Perhaps being in the presence of a very holy person; possibly a sermon or a word from a friend that opens your eyes to something that needs to change in your life; maybe the word of an innocent child that reflects a profound truth; perhaps a word of scripture that jumps off the page, an extraordinary act of love experienced from another person, or the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit providing assurance to persevere in a time of suffering.
Many years ago after the burial of my father, my mother, brother and I were riding out of the cemetery in the funeral home’s limo back to town, and I started to have this overwhelming sense of joy. It was in the middle of January, on an overcast, cold day. The snow drifts along the road were covered with soot from the windswept plowed fields of northern Iowa. It was a bleak dreary scene.
Yet, here I was, inexplicably experiencing this heightened level of joy. I said to my mother and brother, “I know this sounds odd, but I have a great feeling of joy.” They both looked at me, but said nothing. The next morning while I was praying in my father’s bedroom, the following words came into my mind, “The reason for your joy yesterday was because your father is with me in heaven.”
My heart burned within me as I heard those words and recalled the joy from the prior afternoon. It was the Lord, and I wanted to hold onto every word I heard.
When Jesus later met with the disciples, he promised he would be with them always. This promise is also meant for us. If you have never experienced your heart burning within you from Jesus’ presence, open the door of your heart and invite him in. He is always tarrying outside, waiting for your invitation. Like the disciples on the road, let us say, “Stay with us.”