Think for a moment of all the times you have wished for something, and wanted something to happen that didn’t go the way you planned. Maybe you even prayed about it and your prayers were met with silence. I try to remind myself that God ALWAYS answers our prayers, but sometimes we don’t like the answer. For the most part, his response is one of three things: yes, no, or wait. Of course “wait” might be the hardest one to hear, as it leaves you in some kind of limbo, wondering if he heard you at all.
But his measure of time and his sense of timing are far higher than ours, just as his thoughts and his ways are higher. When things happen in God’s timing, it is always for our good. But we are an impatient people who want the world and we WANT IT NOW. (Cue Veruca Salt…)
Can you think of a time when you had to wait on God’s timing? Waiting is HARD.
In our Ascension passage today, we find the disciples watching Jesus return to his father after a 40-day period of their being with him after the resurrection. Their hearts are troubled. They don’t want him to leave, but they know that he will come back someday. He promises that if they remain in Jerusalem, they will receive a baptism even better than the one John performed:
Acts 1 (The Message)
1 1-5 Dear Theophilus, in the first volume of this book I wrote on everything that Jesus began to do and teach until the day he said good-bye to the apostles, the ones he had chosen through the Holy Spirit, and was taken up to heaven. After his death, he presented himself alive to them in many different settings over a period of forty days. In face-to-face meetings, he talked to them about things concerning the kingdom of God.
As they met and ate meals together, he told them that they were on no account to leave Jerusalem but “must wait for what the Father promised: the promise you heard from me. John baptized in water; you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit. And soon.”
Waiting is an important part of this story. Things were not happening quickly, or according to their wishes, but rather at a pace that God had set. Part of what needed to happen during the waiting was for them to readjust their expectations of what Jesus’ return would actually bring:
6 When they were together for the last time they asked, “Master, are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel now? Is this the time?”
They were still looking to Jesus to overthrow the existing power structure and establish his kingdom. Even with ALL they knew about their Messiah, they still didn’t quite get the fact that the kingdom he brought was an internal one. It was not time for Jesus to rule the kingdom of Israel just yet:
7-8 He told them, “You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business. What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world.”
9-11 These were his last words. As they watched, he was taken up and disappeared in a cloud. They stood there, staring into the empty sky. Suddenly two men appeared—in white robes! They said, “You Galileans!—why do you just stand here looking up at an empty sky? This very Jesus who was taken up from among you to heaven will come as certainly—and mysteriously—as he left.”
As we anticipate the second coming of Christ, let us be about our Father’s work and spread the gospel to Jerusalem (your local community), Judea (your state and country), and Samaria (international destinations). There is much to do while we wait…but as we wait, let us remember that timing is the Father’s business. In his time, he makes all things beautiful.