The Walk to Emmaus changed my life. I don’t know if I would be a pastor today if I had not gone. It helped me to experience the love of Christ in a real and tangible way. And it made the Kingdom of God seem to come alive on Earth if only for a weekend. Not everyone has that experience, but if you’re willing to “let go and let God,” you might just encounter the living Christ for yourself.
Gwen and Dave were two friends of ours who had known Cassie a long time. When Cassie and I were serious about our relationship, they invited us to come to their church, Alpharetta First UMC. It would eventually become our church home, too. They had already seen Cassie grow in her faith and I guess noticed a change in me as we began attending weekly and became more involved in the life of the church. So they invited us to come to a weekend retreat about faith – the Walk to Emmaus.
We decided to give it a try.
I hadn’t heard much about it before Gwen and Dave. Some people thought the Walk to Emmaus was some kind of “cult gathering” because people who had gone were so secretive about what happened during the weekend, but it was nothing like that at all. It’s like a surprise party or an awesome Christmas present. If you tell someone in advance what to expect, it’s just not the same. Or like The Usual Suspects. If you know the end, it kind of ruins the movie. I’d rather not ruin the movie.
I will tell you one thing. You are asked to surrender control for the weekend. That’s a tough one for most people. No, that doesn’t mean you’re locked up or can’t get away. What it means is that you are asked to give up your phone and your watch. That’s pretty much it. And whoever sponsors you for the weekend is the one who takes you and drops you off. So no car. Not a lot to give up, but a LOT to give up. The point is to give control over to God and not worry about things like “what time is it?” If you focus instead on the experience, you’ll gain so much more out of it. If that’s impossible for you (and for some people it is), then know you will likely not get much out of the weekend. And to be fair, you’re probably not quite ready for it, and that’s okay.
For me, I encountered the endless and boundless love of Jesus Christ at the retreat and Cassie did, too. Since I went first, I was able to attend the closing gathering for her and saw how deeply moved she was by the whole weekend. No, I didn’t “see” Jesus but instead encountered Christ through the love and devotion of the people there. That is really the only way I know how to describe it without spoiling the surprise! And you don’t want to spoil the surprise. Believe me, it’s better than Disneyland (and if you know me, that’s saying a LOT).
If you’re curious about it, please feel free to contact me and I’m happy to share more.