My Fourth Day Talk

This is the text of my fourth day talk during last Sunday evening's gathering here in Boone, NC. As many of you know, the walk to Emmaus is a great faith builder and and help to the local church. If you ever have the opportunity to talk the walk, do it, you will always be glad you did.

Men’s Walk 60
Table of Paul

In August of 2003 I was able to fulfill a life long dream by traveling to Africa and visiting Christian missionaries and go on safari. Aside from marriage to my wife Sandi and the birth of my four children, this was the highlight of my life.

When I returned from Africa, almost unbeknownst to me, I was a changed man. And to top it off, the first day back at work after two weeks in Africa, the management team at work had begun a weekly prayer time to which I was quickly invited.

Needless to say, this event provided me with a lot of food for thought and I began to form a new perspective on what it meant to be a Christian.

Around this same time, some people I worked with, who had been on a walk and will go unnamed but one of them is Carolyn Fogle, thought I would really enjoy participating in one myself. I had attended a non-denominational church for many years and most of who I worked with attended BUMC, but the thought of getting time away intrigued me, so I said yes—not really knowing what I was getting myself into and feeling like a little fish in a great big pool of water.

On February 19th, 2004, after prayer in the foyer of BUMC, my bags were loaded for me into a car and we made the trip to Kingsport and what was to be the next largest event in my life.

However, as Paul Harvey says, here is the story behind the story. About the end of January, my body began to tell me in a not very subtle achy way that the Candida infection that I had fought with several years earlier had returned. Since I was familiar with it, I began to fight it as soon as I realized it wasn’t the flu or just being tired all the time.

Having had this infection before and beating it, I knew that there would be some bad weeks before I could get my body back under control. I continued to work and really didn’t share with anyone what was going on. I even remember being asked by Bobby Sharp, who was in the car with me on the way up to Kingsport, what my prayer needs were and I told him an unspecified illness. By this time I was in really bad shape and had no idea what I was getting into. I had lots of probiotic fungal fighters in my bag along with a lot of Advil and began to dose myself in order to make it through the weekend. My fingers and joints were stiff and swollen and the thought of lowering myself into a piece of foam on the floor was less than inviting—much less trying to get up in the morning. I remember even having to have some guys help me get my t-shirt off.

In the midst of all this God showed up and helped me not only make it through the weekend but also helped me get rid of a lot of baggage that was holding me back. As my spirit was healed my body followed. And even though my fingers were so stiff I couldn’t form the chords to play the guitar, I was able to make music on several of the pianos that were scattered around the church we were in. A gift from a loving father in the midst of the storm.

If going to Africa was life changing, the 72-hour walk was like a re-birth—a re-discovery of my faith in every act of food service and kindness that the Emmaus community parceled out during that weekend in Kingsport.

I preparing for this 4th day talk, I found and re-read the letters that I was given and after all these years was once again touched and brought to tears by the caring that was literally hanging over all of them. I was also slightly rebuked by the Holy Spirit when I thought that I have not really been a good 4th day Emmaus guy and sought out all those people I know who could use a little of the gift that I received from all of you.  Giving a friend a new car pales in comparison to helping them find the way to a walk. But enough about that.

Little was I to know that in the years following my walk I would lose my mother, leave the church I had attended for 22 years and face many personal challenges at work and in other arenas.

I would like to tell you that the exhilaration that I had on the Emmaus mountaintop upon leaving the chapel on that last day has not only continued but has grown stronger and stronger—but I can’t really say that.

I would like to tell you that my 72 hour time away turned me into a mighty man of God able to pray without ceasing and be content in whatever circumstances that I find myself in—but I can’t really do that.

And while I can’t tell you that I have mastered all the spiritual disciplines, I can tell you this: that He who began a good work in me will continue until it is finished. What I can tell you about my many fourth days since my walk is that God has kept His end of the covenant He made with me the day I gave Him my heart. That He has never left me or forsaken me and that he has “raised me from the dead” so to speak as pertains to me losing faith in the world around me.

That he has taken me out of an abusive church relationship and place me in a family who cares for me and believes in me—warts and all. That He has restored my voice both musically and poetically and that the gatherings have been a big part in healing my wounded heart.

I have lived a fourth day that saw me getting a card from my 24 year old son, a recent NC State graduate, telling me that he thought I did a good job in being a dad and a father to him

We are all on a pilgrimage. I just returned a half an hour ago from a funeral of a friend I went to church with in Ashe County in the early 80’s. His earthly pilgrimage is over but ours remains—our journey not yet finished.

God still speaks to his people in many and varied ways. A biking buddy of mine once told me that he appreciated my insight into his life. After a moment of thought I told him that it wasn’t me speaking but God inside who was very concerned with Him and his life. Anything good that I do comes from God and this through His son Jesus. My goal is to try and stay healthy so that I have more fourth days and really begin to learn what they are all about.

De Colores.


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