[Emi B., 18, Utah]
About 2,000 years ago on the day of the Savior’s Resurrection, two disciples took a 5-mile journey to a town called Emmaus. The Savior, disguised, joined them on their walk. Unrecognized by the two disciples, He talked with them about scriptures and “the things concerning himself”. As the group reached Emmaus the disciples invited Him to stay with them and have dinner. The Savior still disguised “sat at meat with them, He took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them”. At that moment the disciples’ eyes were opened and they recognized the risen Lord… but right then He vanished.
They walked and talked about the gospel for 5 miles without recognizing that the resurrected Christ stood before their eyes! In surprise, and probably a little embarrassment, they turned to each other and asked “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:32)
For some reason, this verse has always been particularly meaningful for me. Although the physical appearance of the Savior was disguised, his teachings brought the same spirit, the disciples just didn’t recognize it until he was gone. Now it’s most definitely not my place to judge the disciples. We don’t know why Christ chose to disguise himself, and maybe it was actually impossible for the disciples to recognize him. However, it’s made me think about how much I truly truly want to be able to recognize Christ.
As someone who struggles with anxiety and depression, discerning the spirit from other emotions and thoughts I have can be really difficult at times. Matthew 24:24 says that in the last days “there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, If it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect”. I’ve been thinking about this verse and the story of the road to Emmaus for a long time now. I know that the desire of my heart is to return to Christ and to do that I need to be able to recognize his promptings, stay on the straight and narrow path, and not be distracted by the lies all around me.
What will help me recognize Christ and the promptings of the Holy Ghost?? How can I be sure that I will stay on the straight and narrow path? As I‘ve studied I think that I have found some answers. I still have a LOT to learn about this subject but I would like to share what I know so far.
1. Christ is with us more than we realize
I think we have more in common with these two disciples than we realize. We constantly have access to the spirit and Christ is always at our side.. however, we (kind of like the disciples) have a veil drawn over our eyes. I asked one of my missionary friends about this topic and he said something I really really liked:
“Christ is playing a part in everything in our lives and all we really need to do is to look up and recognize him today. We can see his hand in all things. Look for all good in the world and there he will be smiling and awaiting our recognition. We must learn to recognize he is there and show him we know he is there by thanking him and acknowledging him. We must learn to see Him in others and thank and praise them for their Christ-like attributes. How many times has someone acted as Christ in disguise at your side when you needed him most? He has always been there and will always be there when we put our faith and trust in him.”
Christ is always here for us. Making an effort to recognize him can make a big difference in our lives!
2. Practice makes perfect!
Recognizing the voice of the spirit amidst all the chaos in our world can be very difficult. The spirit speaks to everyone differently and figuring out what that looks like for you is a very personal experience. The only way to gain an understanding of how the spirit speaks to you personally is by experience. Try reading your scriptures, try really paying attention at church, try praying! Be intentional. Create space for yourself to ponder or meditate, without a phone or loud noises distracting you. The spirit is almost always described as a “still small voice”. President Nelson said, “In the coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.”… so practice feeling the spirit! Study the words used to describe the Holy Ghost. Words like peace and comfort and joy and gentleness. President Nelson also said that “The Lord loves effort”. I know that as we practice feeling the spirit, God will bless us and won’t let our efforts be in vain.
3. Commandments are KEY
I know we hear it ALL the time, but we are given commandments for a reason!! It’s hard to go wrong when following all the commandments. They keep up safe, they give us lasting freedom, and they keep us on the straight and narrow path… that leads right back to Christ. President Nelson said that “Nothing opens the heavens quite like the combination of increased purity, exact obedience, earnest seeking, daily feasting on the words of Christ in the Book of Mormon, and regular time committed to temple and family history work.”
Commandments make it possible for us to be in places (both spiritually and physically) where we can receive revelation, revelation that will lead and guide us through our lives and back to our Father in Heaven.
Our Heavenly Parents love us. Christ loves us. When we try our best, He makes up for what we can’t accomplish. I know that with practice we can all learn how to receive personal revelation and recognize the hand of God in all things.