I like answers. I am not a fan of waiting. I like things to be direct, to the point and fast. Microwaves are my friend. Fast food should not have long line, it’s supposed to be fast. I like to see results quickly. All of these things I realize are not ideal attributes in a believer, but sometimes we just have to be real with where we are and what need to work on. Recently Pastor David Ruud Sr. spoke at the Eau Claire campus and he highlighted a verse that I have been mulling over the last few days.
The Ultimate Parent
The set up is this, Jesus has risen from the dead, He has appeared to the disciples several times over 40 days and he is now ascending to the Father. This is the last chance for final instructions. This is also the last chance for any questions that the disciples have for Him. In Acts 1 we pick up at verse 4 where Jesus has told them He is sending them the Holy Spirit and they will be baptized in the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes we read through a lens that already knows where the story is going and we forget the tensions that existed as scripture was being lived out. The disciples had many unanswered questions. They had followed Jesus through it all and watched him conquer death. They had a renewed sense of faith and devotion and they were eager for Him to fulfill all the plans He had talked about over the last three years. But Jesus was playing the LONG game and the disciples were confusing the third inning for the ninth.
In verse 6 we see the disciples reveal their hearts. “So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, ‘Lord has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?'” He has JUST told them He was sending them the Holy Spirit, but they did not understand the vastness of this statement. They wanted to know if it was time to fight, to reign on earth, to set Israel free. I can imagine Jesus looking at them going… I DID just set you free… from sin and death for all eternity. Has that not sunk in yet? The more I see Him revealed in scripture the more I am amazed at His patience with us. Anyway, He replied that He didn’t know when He would return and set up His Kingdom, only the Father knows, and then redirected them back to the Holy Spirit.
Talk about parenting 101! The redirection! What about this, Mom? When can I have that, Dad? And the countless “why” questions! We hear all the time the request for our immediate needs to be met on our terms, right NOW. And it’s exhausting. Aren’t you thankful God does not get exhausted of our questions, doubts, and frustrations?
As I read these verses I could see how the disciples were so focused with what THEY wanted they were missing what JESUS wanted to do. They wanted to be free, physically, here on earth. They wanted him to rule and reign here and now. They wanted to sit on his right and his left. They wanted everything to be “fixed.”
Just Fix It
How many times over the last few months have we begged and pleaded for things to go back to “normal?” Our jobs to be normal, church to be normal, school, shopping, vacations, hair cuts ANYTHING–JUST FIX IT, GOD!!! We have demanded He come and fix it according to OUR definition of what we want things to look like. How we think the world should be and operate. But what if He has a different plan? What if instead He plans to fill us with Himself, the Holy Spirit and radically change the way that we do life and serve Him. His plan for the disciples was to fill them with His Spirit and watch them start the Church. They would face many trials, persecution and hardships, but the Spirit of God inside them would give them everything they needed to endure.
I wonder how many followers of Jesus missed it. Who didn’t stay in the upper room? Who got tired of waiting? Who decided this wasn’t the “right way” for God to fix it? Who was mad and disappointed when God did not handle things their way? My prayer through all of this in 2020 has been, “Lord, I don’t want to miss what you are doing.” The disciples were asking the wrong questions and I would venture to say we have been asking the wrong ones as well. Instead of “God, fix it,” let’s change our hearts, “God fill us with your Spirit. Let us know you. For then we can endure anything.”