".....their faces downcast" (Luke 24:17)
In our journey with the Lord, we can experience the God who sees beyond our masks and into our hearts.
With the many Covid-19 cases in the country, we live in challenging times, especially for the front liners. Some people have started to wear double masks to protect themselves.
It is said that our facial expression and outward looks often reveal what is going on in our hearts and inner life. So a face that looks downcast may express a heart that is discouraged.
Prior to the pandemic my son, Stephen, travelled on the LRT train line quite often. He observed that most commuters did not have the bright faces as they traveled to and from work.
Life in the city is tough. And most people are going through the motions to earn enough just to survive. Their downcast faces express hearts with little joy.
Recently, a friend observed over Zoom that my face looked tired. Indeed, there were concerns and physical problems in my life that led to my "downcast" look. That worn-out look expresses what is inside my life: I felt knocked down, though, thanks to God's grace, I'm not knocked out yet.
Now, if I was wearing a mask during zoom, would my friend still be able to observe my tired face? Maybe. Or maybe not. But one thing I'm certain is that God is able to see 100% of my face even though I may be double-masked.
And he is able to beyond my mask. While I can try to look okay and put on a smile in my workplace, one thing I'm certain is that I cannot hide from God all the things and burdens that are weighing me down in my heart and spirit. He can see all of me.
In our Emmaus journey with the Lord, we can experience the God who looks beyond our outer expression and into our hearts. Masked or not, Jesus knows everything that is going on in our lives.
Because of this, we can make the words of Psalm 139 to be our personal prayer to God: "O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, O Lord... Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? "
On the way to Emmaus, the two disciples looked downcast. The unknown traveler would have easily suspected that something was troubling them. That's because the stranger was the Lord himself. But the mask-wearing disciples could not recognise the stranger...whom they actually knew.
They had hoped Jesus was the King promised in the Old Testament who would free them from their enemies. Those hopes were dashed by His death.
The God who sees beyond our masks and into our hearts is also able to see that the disciples had a heart issue. They were, like many people today, "so near and yet so far".
They knew a lot "about" Jesus. They knew Jesus' name, his title, the manner of his life, the prophecies regarding his death, his reputation, his enemies, his executioners, the hopes of his followers and even the testimony from the witnesses at the tomb, both male and female.
But what didn't they know?
They didn't know Jesus.
At that point the disciples knew about Jesus but they did not know Jesus personally.
In the Internet age, all the knowledge about Jesus is just a Google search away. But unless we are prepared for that personal encounter with the living Lord, which requires an individual response from us, we will still be searching for God's promises to be fulfilled in our lives.
Lord, you are our companion. As you walk with us, you are the God who sees beyond our masks and into our hearts. No one else is able to really see our struggles, pain or despair, but you are able. Today, we acknowledge that we are "so near and yet so far" in our relationship with you. Today, we choose to unmask ourselves so that you may see the deep issues in our hearts. Lord, because you really know us, we seek to know you and follow you in our lives. Amen.