“Were not our hearts burning within us?” (Luke 24:32)
The banging reverberated down the empty Jerusalem street cloaked in inky blackness. “I know they are in here,” Cleopas said under his breath to his companion. “Peter!” he called in a loud voice. “It’s me! Cleopas! Open the door. We’ve come back from Emmaus! We’ve seen the Lord! Let us in!”
Step One: Allow yourself to go within. Embrace the stillness inside yourself, the peace. Even if you don’t feel it right away, it is there. Take a few moments for your whole being to settle down into that space in the center of your soul where God dwells. Even if you can’t feel him or sense him, God is there, shining, giving, and loving. It might help to picture a bright light, or a gentle candle, in the center of your heart, to represent God’s radiant presence within you.
Step Two: When you are settled, read the accounts of some of the experiences of the disciples after Jesus’ crucifixion in Luke 24:13-49. As you read, focus on the experience of Cleopas as he walked on the road to Emmaus and later returned to Jerusalem to notify the other disciples. Imagine the fear and disappointment he must have been experiencing after the death of his beloved Lord. When you have finished reading, sit in silence for some time.
Step Three: Slowly read the passage again. When you finish, you may wish to use the following guide to enter into Cleopas’ experience to find healing.
Praying with Cleopas
- Cleopas must have been frightened and confused as he walked to Emmaus! Have you ever felt like all is lost before? Imagine you are Cleopas, walking down the road to Emmaus after the death of Jesus. What regrets are you running from like Cleopas and the other disciple? Where are you trying to control your life? To fix a problem your own way? To redirect your own life without the presence and power of Jesus? Experience Cleopas’ joy when he realized that Jesus had appeared to him. Have you ever felt a change from dejection to joy in a few short hours? Do you identify with Cleopas’ sadness or his joy?
- Imagine yourself in the room when Cleopas and the other disciple returned to tell them what happened to the disciples who were in hiding. Watch the scene play out. You can imagine yourself as one of the people in the room or you can be yourself. You can watch what happens or participate. Allow your imagination to take over as you make this Scripture story your own.
To put yourself in the story, it may help to read this imaginative account:
A servant cautiously cracked the door open, raised a lamp, and peered out to see who was knocking so loudly. “It’s them!” he called over his shoulder, then quickly pulled the two disciples into the house where the Apostles were hiding.
Everyone started speaking at once.
“We saw Jesus!” Cleopas said excitedly.
“You saw him? So has Peter!”
“Where did you see him? What did he look like?”
“Tell us, Cleopas. What was he like?”
“Quiet!” said Peter, “Give them something to drink. They’ve come from Emmaus, that’s a long journey. Let them catch their breath.”
Cleopas sat down, took a drink of water, and then began. “You all know we left Jerusalem yesterday morning. I saw no reason to stay. Jesus was dead. He had died like a criminal. I couldn’t believe I had given up so much to follow him and then he died like that. I wasn’t going to hang around in hiding. On the way back to Emmaus we were talking about what had happened, what went wrong, what we could have done, should have done. It felt so lonely out there on the road, walking back to our old life. We were trying to figure it out, to make sense out of it. Attempting to comprehend what our own lives meant after this devastating loss of Jesus. We were getting nowhere.”
Cleopas paused and reflected quietly, then said, “We were getting nowhere until this man joined us on the way. There was something different about him. He was so full of joy. Peace flowed from him.”
“Was it Jesus?” James asked.
“We thought he was just a traveler,” Cleopas continued. “When we told him about Jesus’ death on Calvary, everything made sense to him. Where we saw roadblocks and problems, he explained to us the mysterious plan, the designs of God starting with Moses, David, and Isaiah and fulfilled now in Jesus. It gave me such a feeling of hope to think that what seemed like the end might just be one dark moment in a journey that the Lord has blessed—” Cleopas paused and the room was in complete silence for a moment.
“—we don’t really need to understand this on our own terms but on God’s,” Cleopas continued. “As the evening began to fall, we stopped and ate together. I realized how my heart was burning like…like…”
“Like the first time we met the Master,” Peter quietly broke in.
“Yes,” Cleopas agreed. “But the stranger gave himself away when he broke bread and gave it to us, just as Jesus had done at the supper we shared on the night he was arrested.”
Cleopas put his hand on Peter’s shoulder. “Peter, I think everything is going to be alright. I think everything is just the way it is meant to be.”
“Look!” James exclaimed.
The room was bursting with radiant light and their hearts swelled with joy. A figure had appeared. He said, “Do not be afraid. Why do you doubt it is I?”
“Jesus!” Cleopas exclaimed.
“Look at my hands and my feet. It is me—risen—here—with you.”
3. As Cleopas walked away from Jerusalem in confusion and regret, his shattered expectations had become a wall between him and reality. Recall the times in your life when things didn’t work out as planned. Someone got hurt. Plans fell apart. Dreams were shattered through others’ mistakes or your own. A good question to ask yourself in these situations is, “Am I certain that this wall of fear and disappointment is the whole truth?”
Write down or recall a situation in your life that seemed bleak but that you were later able to see more clearly.
4. Quietly imagine yourself with the disciples and the stranger eating supper in Emmaus. Watch as Jesus quietly prays and then breaks the bread, handing it to you with the words, “This is my body. Take and eat.” Let the radiance emanating from the face of Jesus pour over you. Freeze the moment and soak in the warmth and light from around that table. …
This is taken from one of the meditations in Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments
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