Jesus said... Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I shall give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
Anyone who carries any kind of burden in their hearts can find peace in those words. Even non-believers can hear those words and find a desire to lay down their burdens and have rest, have peace.
This past weekend, another Walk to Emmaus was held.
Here is the amazing thing about the Walk to Emmaus. Amazing God things always happen there. I had my own important experiences and takeaways from my Walk just one year ago.
This weekend experience is hard to put into words. Even if I were to write out every detail of the agenda, it wouldn't capture the beauty of the weekend and what the experiences mean to the men and women who attend.
Here are things that I hear from people as they complete their weekends -
I was finally able to let go of some big burdens. Burdens I had been holding on to for years and for comfort and for familiarity. Burdens that I was scared to let go of. And as soon as I turned it over to God during my weekend, I felt immense peace and purpose.
I've never felt so loved. I've never known that so many people could find me worthy of love simply because I exist. I want to live my life to show that I am worthy of that love that comes from God and I want to share it with others.
I was completely overwhelmed with kindness and being taken care of and being in God's presence.
I realize that I've been selfish and I want to put God first so that I can be a better spouse/parent/child.
There are 3 main themes that I hear from people who have gone on a Walk (or similar experience like the Great Banquet or Cursillo) - Priorities, Laying Down of Burdens, Love.
Many people come away from Emmaus with a new or renewed focus on God. For some, it's the first step in really forming a personal relationship with God. For some, it's a deepening of an existing relationship. For some, it's learning about how Christianity works, the foundation, and the drive to learn more. From there, people want to put their faith first, live it louder, and share God with others.
Emmaus is not therapy or counseling. It's not a place to go work through addiction, eating disorders, childhood trauma, nasty divorces, mourning, and so on. But those things come up because those things are real life. Those things are part of who we are and part of what we carry. Many of us are hanging on to things that weigh us down, though. We've "dealt with" those hardships, that trauma, the drama. But we still hold on to the scars, to the hurts, to the pain. It comforts us, in some way. At Emmaus, there are oppostunities to take those burdens to God and to lay them down and leave them. That's something any of us can do at any time. But Emmaus is a safe place, a safe environment, and the events that occur help you to better understand what it means to really "let go and let God."
Love will become redefined at Emmaus. It will be deeper, stronger, wider. Love will change in you and then flow out of you in a new way. I became aware of love in a philospohical way but also in a very real and visceral way on my Walk.
If you want to know more, I want to tell you more. If you want to go on one of these experiences, I want to help you find your way. For those in the Indianapolis area, the next Walks are in October (Men's Walk is Oct 10-13 and Women's Walk is Oct 17-20). There is a Chrysalis Flight (the Walk to Emmaus designed for youth) in February of 2014.
Everything Emmaus has to offer is already available through a relationship with God and involvement in a church. Having faith is the starting point. There is nothing you gain at Emmaus that isn't already taught and shared. But taking several days to only focus on God, to only focus on what He wants for you, to truly renew yourself in Him... that's what makes Emmaus such a unique growth experience.