Amid reality of death and rumors of resurrection, Jesus’s friends walked a dusty road to Emmaus. And “Jesus Himself drew near.” Preoccupied as they were, it took miles and the breaking of bread for the travelers to recognize Jesus as more than a stranger, though He was with them all along as a friend.
Today I walk my own dusty roads and wonder where I fail to see Jesus because I only know Him as a stranger. Where is Jesus appearing in my life? He is with me through the banana bread my neighbor leaves on my porch on Saturday morning, through the reaching out of a hand to squeeze mine as I journey the communion line at church, through hand-me-down clothes a friend sets aside for my first grader.
Could welcoming Jesus, the Stranger, mean welcoming, noticing, receiving simple kindnesses? The war veteran who picks up my daughter’s crayon at the restaurant, the hands guiding my head under warm water at the hairdresser, the doctor’s receptionist who smiles even though I am fifteen minutes late.
Once I start noticing the kindnesses of God—the presence of Jesus on this road—they start happening more. They start coming from me more. Jesus the Stranger becomes delightfully surprising. And God’s grace appears, again and again, through the love of others, through my love for others. It shows up, in fact, nearly everywhere I look. Just as if it was there all along.
Where are you on the dusty road?
Where have you noticed Jesus in the kindness and simple gestures of others?
Elisa Fryling Stanford is a writer and editor in Colorado. She is the author of Ordinary Losses: Naming the Graces That Shape Us. Elisa and her husband have two daughters.