Ever since I became a Christian back on February 11th, 1975, I’ve wanted to be in the presence of godly men. Back in the day I was saved, I worked a seasonal job that had me on unemployment during the winter months. This allowed me the opportunity to hang out with the youth pastor, Gary Gearhart, in his office at the church. It was Gary that had led me to Christ and he was my first discipler. Oh, how I was like gum on his shoe. I’m surprised he got any work done. So, what he did, was he put me to work helping him with folding bulletins, running errands, helping prepare for youth activities and…discipling me.
During that early spring, Gary and Pastor Jones, the lead pastor at the church where I was saved, took me everywhere with them. If there was a pastors’ luncheon, they took me along. If there was a special service at some church, they took me along. If there was an ordination council, they took me along. I got an inside look at what pastors did, how they lived, worked, and ministered. Along the way, I was able to meet and eventually befriend some of the leading men in those circles of that day. I always wanted to be around godly men.
One of the sweetest accounts in the Bible is the story of the men on the Emmaus road after the resurrection of Christ in Luke 24. Two followers of the now crucified Jesus were walking on the road, apparently toward their home. As they went they were discussing all that had transpired in Jerusalem the past few days. As they did, Jesus drew near and began to walk with them but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. Jesus asked about their discussion and why they were they so sad. They rehearsed everything that had transpired in the past few days culminating in the confusing reports of certain women and others who had confirmed that angels had told them that Jesus was not in the tomb. And sure enough, he was not.
Jesus then began to teach them, beginning with Moses and all the prophets, about everything that was spoken of him in all the Scripture. They listened with rapt attention as they walked. After some time, they arrived at the village to which they were going. As they turned off the road to advance home, they turned and said to Jesus, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” Jesus obliges and in the breaking of bread with them, Jesus reaches out to hand them the repast, and, ostensibly, the wounds on his wrists were revealed. Immediately their eyes were opened and they realized the one with whom they had been traveling was the resurrected Jesus. And he vanished out of their sight.
There is much theology in this passage, not the least of which is the affirmation that the OT is a Christian book that unfolds in all its pages, Jesus Christ. But what struck me this day as I read the passage was the phrase, “Stay with us.” Jesus was going to pass on and keep walking. But their invitation to stay with them was accepted. I don’t think this was simply a social obligation. I think they were fascinated by the conversation along the way about the Christ in the OT and how his suffering was necessary to the plan of redemption. I think they wanted to linger in the presence of this new found friend and learn more. But what I wonder is if they had not longed for Jesus to continue with them…to “Stay with them”…, would they have ever realized the one with whom they had been walking and talking was the resurrected Christ himself?
There is something special in “lingering with Jesus”. Just as I learned there was much benefit to my soul to “hang out” with godly men when I was first saved, I have come to realize that there is great reward, insight, and profit in “staying with Jesus a little longer”. I believe we gain much from walking with Jesus and simply fellowshipping with him, being in his presence, and spending time with him.
Over the years, there have been many nights when I go out for a walk just to be with Jesus. I have no agenda. I have no prayer list. Often I will actually open this time of interaction with the words, “Lord, I just want to walk with you tonight. I just want to be in your presence. I just what to chat with you tonight as two friends walking down a country road.” The conversation goes wherever the Spirit leads and I just talk with the Lord. I trust that is not in any way irreverent and I do not think it is. These have been especially poignant times of fellowship. Sometimes I sing. Sometimes I’ll reminisce saying something like, “Lord, remember the time…” Of course he remembers the time…he remembers every time. But I’m talking to my friend as we walk and it is a boon to my soul. It is like me saying, “stay with me a while Jesus… I need more time with you.” This was never truer than when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My fellowship with Christ and the sense of his walking with me through that trial was profound, comforting, and reassuring. I have never before sensed a greater presence of Christ.
I wonder what good to our souls would come if we lingered with Jesus a little more. It proved to be life changing for those two me on the Emmaus road. It has been life changing for me. I trust it will be for you.