December 28, 2003   Daislyn Pease
  Fourth Days

Yesterday was my fourth day. Today is my fourth day. Tomorrow will be my fourth day, and every day after that as well. So... fourth day of what? You may ask. Has she been a closet alcoholic all this time and we didn't even know about it? No, however, much like recovering alcoholics I am taking these days one day at a time.

Let me back up with a little explanation. Some of you know that back in October I went on an event called a "Walk to Emmaus." A walk to Emmaus is three days of rather intensive Christian study. A mixture of clergy and lay people give "talks" about various aspects of being a Christian, such as setting priorities (where is God in your priorities?), prevenient grace, justifying grace, sanctifying grace, growth through study, etc. At the risk of sounding trite, I dubbed it "Christianity 101." Sound boring? Believe me, it wasn't!

In between these talks you get together in groups to discuss the message delivered, exchange ideas among yourselves, and figure out how to share your ideas with the rest of the group. Personal stories are exchanged as a result of these discussions, and you get very close to the people in your group.

There was nothing really new in any of the topics except for new perspectives from the speakers. It was very basic stuff. But sometimes I think that's what we have to do: Get back to the basics. This trip back to basics was a spiritually renewing event for me. And that is the purpose of the Walk to Emmaus. It doesn't exist to get more people to go on walks, not that that's frowned upon, nor does it hope to create new pastors as a result, but I imagine there might be a few who went that way. The walk exists to provide spiritual renewal in its participants to help people re-up their faith, to use a term Shirley coined two weeks ago. The hope is that those people will go back to their congregations and provide spiritual renewal in them second-hand. To help others re-up their faith.

One of the overpowering things I came out of this walk with was a renewed belief in God's love. I think I always knew God loved me, but here (in my head). After this walk I felt it, here in my heart. And I came home with an overpowering need to share that feeling with you. That's why I'm here today. I asked for it.

For several years now, I've been seeking something more, without really knowing what it was. I've gone to church retreats before and they've been good. But I still came away with the same hunger. But, about two years ago I went to a retreat called the "Spiritual Formation Retreat." It was a good retreat, but what I really got out of it was hearing about the Walk to Emmaus and about the Disciple Bible Study, and I got interested in both of them. Several people at this retreat had done one or both of these things, and recommended them highly. Well, we never did the Disciple Bible Study, but we did do the Companions in Christ, which is very similar in that it continues over a long period of time. I think that somehow I knew that that and the Walk to Emmaus was more in the line of what I had been looking for.

The problem is, you must be sponsored by someone who has already done a walk, and women's walks are filled almost immediately and don't happen all that often. It was only when Shirley came that I found someone who had even heard of the Walk to Emmaus, let alone have done one. Now, sponsoring someone is not all as easy as it seems, because the sponsor takes on a pretty serious commitment him or herself. Had I known what kind of commitment that was, I might not have asked, so maybe it's good that some things are not revealed until the end of the walk.

I'm not hungry anymore. Not that I have all the answers. I still have questions--lots of them. But for some time now I've felt God knocking at my door, calling "Daislyn, I want more from you." But I had no clue what God wanted. Do I know now? Not necessarily. God hasn't spoken to me like he did to Moses from the burning bush. But now I have some ideas, such as the Vision literacy project I am trying to inspire among you.

I've never really been much good at praying on a regular basis. I wasn't so bad that I only prayed when I needed something, but I didn't talk to God regularly nonetheless. I recently got a book written by John Tesh, the Christian singer, and in his book he thinks that people think praying to God is hard. That you need to have a Bible right at hand, and maybe a candle. But God just wants to hear from you. We talked about that when we discussed the priority talk. Now I talk to God every morning and ask Him to walk with me during the day. At the end of the day before I go to be, I think Him for being with me and for the events of the day. Is this big stuff? No. But, I really believe if you are in communication with God you will eventually benefit from that.

Think about the Bible passage we read today. As they were walking along the road the disciples were discussing Jesus' preachings with the stranger who suddenly appeared among them, not realizing that he was their Lord. What must that have been like to them? Do you think they asked, What do you think he meant in that parable or this parable? What questions would you have asked? Try it. Talk to God and ask about your questions. You may not get an answer right away, and perhaps not the answer you were looking for, or perhaps you won't understand the answer when it does come. But I think God will answer you eventually in some way.

Now back to the disciples on their walk. How do you think they felt when they knew that it had been Jesus who had been walking with them all day. What wonder! What awe! What an awesome God we have, and that's why I picked that song for today.

Enough about me. You can have the same thing yourself. Just ask God to walk with you everyday, and try to be aware that God is with you from time to time during the day. Thank God at day's end. You don't need to get into everything. Just a thank you. John Tesh has what he calls the world's most dangerous prayer on one of his CDs. It goes, "God, do whatever it takes to bring me closer to Your kingdom." If you don't know what else to ask for, just ask this. If you don't like that word "Kingdom, just say closer to you. You may be surprised by the results. You know, it's Christmas time. We give gifts to our friends and our loved ones. Let me ask you this, What gift did you have for God this year? It's too late for Christmas, but there is a new year ahead of you. Make a resolution to give God a gift of your time, your energy, to help do his work in the world. Give him a little of your time and I think God will feel like it's about the greatest gift he ever got. Talk to God on a regular basis, give your time in God's work, such as teaching an adult to read, or something else you feel is worthy.

Never feel unworthy. We are all worthy at some level or other. We need do nothing to receive God's prevenient grace--it just is.

In parting, remember that you don't need to go on a Walk to Emmaus to do this. You can do this. Just go do it.

God, do whatever it takes to bring us closer into Your kingdom.