Midway through the week, I became exhausted and regretted not having taken more of Sunday off to intentionally rest from academic work. As an assignment I had anticipated taking most of my time mid-week was postponed, I decided to take my lunch to the beach.
Despite being a mostly clouded Tuesday afternoon, the beach was crowded with people soaking in the last bit of summer. I sat up on the boardwalk enjoying the marvelous view as I munched on my pb and j sandwich and began reading. One middle-aged man came and sat down across fro me to put his sandals back on his sandy feet. He asked if and where I was a student. When I responded that I was a student at the seminary he immediately responded “Don’t tell me you’re one of the Jesus people.” A short conversation ensued in which he continued to ask pointed questions about what I believe. After the series of questions, he stood up, walked over to me, shook my hand and introduced himself as a pastor.
In Luke 24, two disciples allow a stranger to come alongside of them on their journey. They are challenged in their thinking by this new companion who challenges their current perspective of the events surrounding the death of Jesus. Realizing the fruitfulness of this conversation, they continued to make space in their lives by inviting the unexpected companion to join them for the evening. As the evening progresses, they suddenly realize that they have been listening to the risen Christ. Jesus disappears and the disciples rush back to Jerusalem with renewed energy with which to encourage the other disciples that the Lord has indeed risen.
My interaction with the pastor on the boardwalk was not nearly as life-giving as the experience the disciples received on the road to Emmaus. While I found myself somewhat frustrated by the pastor’s approach to the encounter, it did lead me to reach out to several friends with whom to debrief the experience and renewed my excitement to be at a seminary where I can continue grappling with some of these tough questions.
Do we allow space for our lives to be interrupted and challenged in the midst of our regular demands?