If you know me at all, you know I need to be around lots of people, or preferably, in front of them. I crave their attention, their applause, and most importantly, their approval. So you can imagine how the last couple of weeks have been for me. I don’t do ‘social distancing’ very well at all.

This solitary confinement of sorts has given me plenty of time to worry about the future—-the future of my own company, the future of our Operators’ businesses, the future of our team members’ lives and their families, the future of the jobs of my friends on staff- the very future of our beloved Brand as we know it. The future is so uncertain.

But there’s hope.

Today, after walking and feeding my dog Henry on a beautiful early morning in Pensacola, Florida, I sat down down to my computer and for whatever reason I got on YouTube to look up Fulton Sheen (considered one of the very first televangelists, and yes, a Catholic Bishop!). I watched one of his TV ‘sermons’ from the 1960’s, and was truly moved by the message. There is hope!

It was during his sermon that he reintroduced me to Luke 24:12-53, more commonly referenced as…

“On the road to Emmaus”.

It so happened that on the day of the Resurrection, three days after Christ had died on the cross, a follower named Cleopas and one other were walking to Emmaus, outside of Jerusalem, sharing with each other their despair over the loss of “the one who was going to redeem Israel”. Jesus came along side them, but they did not recognize him. They shared their sense of loss/disappointment/hopelessness with the stranger (Jesus). The stranger said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”

As all three approached Emmaus, Cleopas and his companion invited the stranger (Jesus) into their home to stay, and eat with them. “When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were open, and they recognized him.”

MY LORD!!! Isn’t that a wonderful story?

We have been shaken, but not forsaken.

Our lives have been shaken. How long will we be able to continue without the promise of food, money, or shelter —those things that give us a sense of security. We are being asked to make changes — more distance, less money, and, God forbid, maybe even less toilet paper.

The world can never give us enough of what we think we need. Although we know on some level that God will provide, we hear and read the news, we examine our bank accounts, and we look at the many people that rely on us, and we get scared. Maybe even immobilized.

Cleopas and his friend were scared after all their hopes and dreams were shattered when the person they believed was their Savior died three days earlier. Now what were they to do?

But then, someone suddenly walked along side them, as they were walking towards a life without hope.

By the way, who was Cleopas’ friend? Why was this person never identified?

Could it be you or me? Do we see ourselves lamenting loss, walking towards a life without hope, full of despair?

I now realize that it is during these times of concern, fear, and quite possibly despair (all legitimate feelings) that our faith will often grow, and hope will prevail.

As the road ahead becomes more uncertain every day, I pray we all can let Him walk along side us, share our concerns with Him, and listen to Him. Only He can show us the way.

And as we walk with Him, let us welcome others on this journey. As we welcome others into our restaurants, our conference calls, our homes and our hearts, social distancing won’t matter. Love will bring us so much closer. It might even be more powerful than a standing ovation.