By Becky Jungkuntz
When I was in college I really struggled with wanting God to work dramatically in my life and feeling that if He didn’t I was somehow less of a Christian, less spiritual, or simply not as loved. I loved hearing the more dramatic testimonies of some of my friends and wished I had a story like that too.
One passage that God used to help during that time was the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Jesus walked on the road with them for miles, but they didn’t recognize him, perhaps in part because they were expecting him to appear a certain way. They had their own expectations, and so for a time missed “seeing” the reality of Jesus’ presence with them. They weren’t “awake” to the work He was doing.
Over the years I have again and again needed God to open my eyes to see the way that He is at work, sometimes right under my nose! Several Sunday’s ago, as Pastor Scott was preaching, I experienced my heart burning within me as I felt God was confirming a message He had spoken to me the week before.
I was struggling with anxiety and my frustration of trying to fit everything necessary into my school day. The harder and faster I worked, the less I seemed to accomplish and the less peaceful and loving I became. As I prayed and asked for God’s help, several thoughts from a book I was reading struck me:
- Love is not necessarily efficient.
- Prayer can give us direction about how to love.
- Jesus’ dependence on His Father involved listening to him as well as talking. Jesus lived, breathed, and taught Scripture—like breathing in and breathing out.
- Jesus didn’t become anxious about his schedule because He was trusting and listening to the Father and meditating on His word.
After reflecting on those words, I felt like I needed to do something to put those words into action – not simply to make a mental assent to them. I mentioned to my Dad that I was considering a Lenten discipline of getting up earlier each day in order to get to school early so that I could pray for the individual students in my room. Also I wanted to spend more time reading Scripture. But I was worried. Was this just a nice idea, but based on my own effort and not really the Spirit’s prompting?
Then as I listened to Pastor Scott’s Transfiguration sermon about the need for the church to “wake up” and his challenge to pursue prayer and Scripture reading particularly during this time, I felt God’s confirming word. Yes, it was God directing my thoughts and reflections last week and now I need to obey and respond to His word. This was not to be like a New Year’s resolution, made in the moment and quickly forgotten. This is something God really wants me to do!
So all Lent I’ve been trying to actually sit in their seats while I pray for my students. It somehow helps me connect to them and think about their needs!
After Pentecost, the disciples could not stop speaking about all they had seen and heard—no more sleepy responses for them! My prayer is that God will continue to open my eyes and my ears so I am alert to his work, that I obey His word, and that I am able to share with others what He has done!