A good portion of life is spent waiting! Have you noticed that? Think back to a universal feeling—you are sitting in a classroom, meeting hall, or driving home and you start to feel your eyes get heavy, not just a little heavy, but more like you have 1 Ton Weight hooked to your eyelids. Nearly every muscle in your body is telling you to sleep, it feels so good, the most satisfying sleep you can imagine, but your brain is telling you what?—as cars go whizzing by—or as your boss glances your direction—as the teacher turns around from the blackboard—That 4-letter word jumps into your head: WAIT, always seemingly standing in between what you and what you want! All throughout life from waiting to get out of school for summer, to waiting for the driver’s license, or waiting to find that special someone, get married, have kids, get a job, get a different job, get a promotion, go on vacation, get enough quarters racked up for Social Security so you can retire, at each stage of life we are forced to WAIT!
The Jews for a few thousand years had been dealing with this idea– from Gen. 3:15 (the promise of the one who would crush the head of the serpent) forward they had been waiting for the Messiah— As we continue in our series Empower through the book of Acts we come to Chapter 1:12-26-where we pick up in the aftermath of the apostles being given the greatest mission in the history of the world, the purpose for their very existence–entrusted to spread the Good News of what they had seen and experienced. Finally after so much has happened the waiting seems to be over: man had sinned, been separated from God, Christ-the Son of God has come—fulfilling the penalty of sin, showing the mercy and grace of God—Christ was crucified on the cross, buried in the tomb, and 3 days later he is resurrected from the dead— not for 1 instance or 1 day, but for 40 days, but to the point where over 500 people see him walking around, interacting, teaching, and eating— Yet just before Jesus ascended into heaven he told them, “Wait—you don’t know when it is coming, but you are going to receive the Holy Spirit!”
It is as the apostles waited to get on with their mission—that we get a clear picture of 3 ways to respond to waiting in our life—whether in triumph or tragedy as part of the ongoing life and foundation of the church.
While they waited it was an opportunity for Obedience. (Acts 1:12-14) 12 Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk[a] from the city. 13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. (1500 meters) Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
It is as they are gathered together, persistently praying, and united together that we see this is an opportunity for them to be obedient to Jesus’ command and his example—who each time he faced a major decision, life-event, or season of life marked it by first going to God in prayer—first act of the church. *WHEN IN DELAY—START TO PRAY* It is no coincidence that Dr. Luke happens to list 3 groups who were assembled in the upper room showing the results of waiting in obedience.
1. For the Apostles—it was a time of TRANSITION–who had partaken in the ministry of Christ—with Christ’s ascension-the students became the teachers. Going from frightened to the forerunners—leading a persecuted and illegal religion– from 1st century until 313 AD. (When one season of life is over, and another one is beginning—kids ministry–retired)
2. For Mary the mother of Jesus—it was a time to TESTIFY-after everything she experience, from her teenage years giving birth to Jesus, to what she saw watching Christ crucified—her presence was a testament to her faith in her own son as the Son of God! (Waiting on God builds faith in God)/ as we depend on his timing and plan)
3. For Jesus brothers’- it was a time of TRANSFORMATION–we know from Scripture that Jesus—most likely had 4 brothers and 2 sister—throughout his life his brothers rejected him and yet suddenly the 40 days were enough to transform them. From bullheaded siblings—James, Joseph, Jude and Simon were now part of the body of believers!
It is as they waited—gathering in persistent prayers—seemingly inactive that things were happening. This happened not only in the lives of the 120 gathered in the upper room, but also where Fulton and Williams Street met in the heart of New York City. The year was 1857—wide spread unemployment was rocking the city, railroads were going into bankruptcy, and just as fast as the wealth was dwindling the despair was multiplying! Jeremiah Lamphier—a 40 something, businessman, and Christian felt that the men of the city, engaged in active business could/needed to devote a portion of the time usually given to rest and refreshment at mid-day to devotional purposes.” The first prayer meeting at Noon brought in a total of 6 people, 5 of whom were late, and yet within 6 months 10,000 businessmen were gathering daily in prayer, confession of sins, and conviction of the Holy Spirit. Within two years, one million converts were added to the church, this wasn’t just confessions of faith, this was upwards of a million people being added to the local church. Imagine what that kind of influx does to the vitality of the church? REVIVAL was alive—that while man was praying, God was producing, that while man waited, God worked, and when man is obedient—God is faithful.
Waiting can be viewed a lot of different ways—sometimes as inconvenience or a waste—other times we can blow past the waiting game, by just doing something, anything, even if we do it without knowing what, how, or with whom to partner! Instead waiting obediently can be a time of transition, a time of testifying—something that builds rather than breaks our faith, and a time of transformation—our daily opportunity to be changed by communing with God!