The Emmaus journey pauses. The disciples invite the Risen Jesus to spend the evening, eventually recognising him when he breaks and blesses the bread. He disappears but they are changed: Weren’t our hearts burning within us while he talked with us (Luke 24:32b). The blaze of love and desire is rekindled.
These disciples seem blessed. Often we don’t feel God so powerfully present in our own lives. Our heads are dizzy with thoughts and pressures; our hearts dragged low by circumstances. Looking around it seems as if everyone else is sitting at the table with the Lord, hearts burning, while we are left with only the ache of our longing.
At times it seems that God thwarts all our efforts to sit down with him, our ache seems to point to something we must be doing wrong. Not so. In life, in death, in his return, Jesus reveals and reminds us of a God of initiative, the God of scripture who uses endlessly inventive, impulsive, ways to reach out to his people. God loves generously, faithfully, first. He calls first, he courts first, he invites first, and not content with doing all of this from a distance he takes another initiative. He moves in, dwells among us.
While the ache within does not offer the comfort of a warm loving feeling, it can be what Martin L Smith refers to as God giving and fuelling his desire in us. It points not to the absence of God but to his presence. It is our way of feeling God’s heart; living within us, God is aching with love and longing for us.
Today, perhaps the ache within you is painful. Know that you already sit at his table and at his invitation. His heart burns within him as he thinks about you.