We’re talking about waiting, and since I’m a word person, I’ve devised a way to help me remember what God is teaching me about waiting using an acrostic with the word, WAIT. But before I get into that I have to say that I really don’t think waiting well, or doing anything well, for that matter, can be done if we don’t know what we believe about God or even why we believe it. What I mean is this: there have been countless times in my life that I have had to wait on God and have been in such a state of frustration and anger that He has gently taken me by the hand, walked me through the pages of my life and His word, and pointed out who He is and what He has done. Often I will hear Him say, “Do you trust me? Do you believe I am who I say I am? Do you believe that I am good no matter what your circumstances? Or is it all just words?” Ouch.
Until we get our heads around who God really is and what we believe about Him, waiting well is a wasted concept. I really believe this is why people like Elizabeth Grant (Click here) cause such a swirl of chatter because we are all so amazed at how they handle their situations. It speaks volumes about their belief in God and the relationship they have with Him.
In Acts one Luke is giving Theophilus a run-down of recent events surrounding the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and more specifically those whom He appeared to after rising from the dead.
“On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about'” (v. 4, NIV).
This is not a perfect four-point sermon where everything in Acts one goes in order according to the acrostic, but upon reading it, I noticed different things about how the apostles waited for the promised Holy Spirit.
Watch your words and attitude. We can spend all of our time fussing and complaining about our situation or we can do what the apostles did. After two men approached them and asked them why in the world they were staring into space when clearly Jesus was gone, they hightailed it back to the city and started praying. This is never my first approach. I usually don’t feel like it, but once I’ve given in, worship becomes like a salve for the soul. Only God quiet the questions.
Anticipate what He will do. This could not be more clearly seen than it is at the end of the chapter. The apostles knew they had been chosen to bear witness of what Jesus had done. They also knew that they needed a replacement for Judas. So they got down to the business of choosing this person in anticipation of the coming of the Holy Spirit. There was a certain order of events and things that had to be accomplished beforehand.
“‘Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David concerning Judas'” (v. 16, italics mine).
“Therefore, it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us'” (v. 21, italics mine).
“For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection” (v. 22, italics mine).
Ignore the distractions. I’m imagining they had questions beyond whether or not this was the time Jesus would finally restore the kingdom of Israel. I could be wrong. I know for me the nagging questions of when, why, how much longer and everything in between only makes waiting more difficult. We prostitute our hope every time we pander to the tauntings of the enemy. Adam and Eve are perfect examples. So is Sarah, who instead of waiting and trusting that God would do what He said He would do, took matters into her own hands. I think we all know the outcome of that. Why cheapen what we know about God by listening to the lies that Satan throws at us in the form of questions that God isn’t ready to answer?
Thank Him for what He will do. Again, the text doesn’t say that they thanked God for what they knew would come after a time of waiting. However, it’s probably safe to say that they did thank Him: for everything, for the years they’d been privy to, for choosing them to be the first to carry out His message, and for everything He had yet to do with them and through them. At least that’s what I would have prayed had I been in the correct frame of mind!
The bottom line is that we all at some point are, will or have been living in liminal space. How we do it affects everything. What would have happened if the disciples hadn’t stayed in Jerusalem and waited for the Holy Spirit? What if they were just so excited about everything they’d seen and heard that they went ahead and attempted to spread His message without the power of the Holy Spirit? How different the Church would look!
Jesus says, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29, NIV). In other words, the weight of the wait is on Him.