This is it! Day 40 of 40. The time has arrived for Jesus to leave. Everything is set. The Father is waiting. The disciples are unaware that these are the final moments they get to spend with Jesus. Or, maybe they suspect something’s up and that’s why they are coming up with questions as a stall tactic. Here’s how The MESSAGE records Acts 1:6-10:
“When they were together for the last time they asked, ‘Master, are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel now? Is this your time?’ 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.’ 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.”
Quite frankly, like those guys, I can’t imagine doing anything other than staring, waiting, hoping, pleading for the disappearance to be cancelled, for Jesus to somehow come back down again, for there to be a next thing, whatever the next thing was. But there was only a chilling emptiness, a sinking sensation, a mental fog paralyzing them, keeping them rooted to this vacant, now-sacred, spot. After the pair of angels shook them from their reverie, they stumbled back to the city, the awareness surging within them that they had just been swept into a new day, a new season without their teacher, their friend, their Messiah, a time to put into practice all the teachings they’d received. But first, Jesus’ stern warning to wait for his promised gift from heaven, the Holy Spirit. In much the same way Jesus had mysteriously left them, the timing and the mode of coming of the Holy Spirit was the new mystery. With no clear answers to their many questions, prayer revealed itself as their anchor, their assurance, their source of peace in the face of great fear and anxiety.
It’s funny-strange that after all this time, in 2022 we still need to be reminded that prayer is our anchor, our assurance, our source of peace in the face of great fear and anxiety. We still need Paul’s teaching that our battle is not one fought on earthly terms, but on spiritual terms, with spiritual weapons. We still need to be reminded of Jesus’ instructions to love our enemies and pray blessings on those who curse us (as well as those who perpetrate unspeakable acts of evil on innocent children*). We still need to be reminded of James’ words to guard our tongues because of the flaming danger they present. We still need to be reminded to be on guard against pride-filled opinions, self-promotion, selfishness and to consider the example of servanthood Jesus modeled. And there’s that whole unity thing Jesus passionately implored us to be about. And so, it’s really true: we are loved and accepted and weak and sinful. Did I mention we are loved? Hear these words from 1 Peter 4:8, TPT: “… constantly echo God’s intense love for one another, for love will be a canopy over a multitude of sins.” AMEN! PD
*Lord, Prince of Peace, Merciful Father, flood with your endless provision of comfort, the hearts of the families of the 19 children and 2 teachers whose lives were taken Tuesday in Uvalde, Texas. For the family of that lost young man, that entire community, our nation, and our world we ask for overflowing evidences of your Church in Kingdom-representing action. May we hear your voice speaking in the quiet spaces above the tumult. In the beautiful name of Jesus we pray. Amen.