Jesus encounters us as a friend and walks with us throughout our lives, and yet we are unaware of him most of the time.
I like the Emmaus Road passage where Jesus gets in step with two guys walking down a road in earnest dialogue over the recent happenings in Jerusalem and the crucifixion of Jesus. They allow him into the discussion and walk together in lively conversation for some time until they arrive at a village.
This scene is about as mundane as one can imagine. Nothing extraordinary about it except, perhaps, their discussion about the Scriptures. Jesus gets in step with them, moves into the shared dialogue to the point that they invite him to stay with them for a meal. At the breaking of the bread Jesus reveals himself to them and their eyes and hearts are opened.
There is nothing in this scene that speaks of unusual religious observance or some extraordinary spiritual insight or practice – they’re just guys sharing a dialogue over Scripture. Nevertheless, Jesus reveals himself to them in fullness and their hearts and minds were opened spiritually. Doubtless their lives were transformed as a result of the encounter, as they ran back to Jerusalem to share their experience with the brethren.
For all of our regular religious practices and worship and spiritual disciplines, most of us are generally unaware of the immanent presence of God. How can this be? We have an intimate relationship with Jesus and yet find that we are still mostly distant. This is a common dilemma, affecting most of us to varying degrees in our lifetime..
But God puts a yearning deep in our hearts, a yearning that drives us, a yearning that only he can fulfill. As our lives become dull with routine worship, the Holy Spirit attracts us to new forms, new means of encountering God, and shows us new disciplines that draw us deeper into relationship with him. Spiritual Direction is one of those disciplines.