On one occasion, while [Jesus] 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
Can we be candid for a moment? There are times when I’d give anything to have been a fly on the proverbial wall during this meal when Christ delivered His instructions to the disciples in our passage-of-focus today. Times like the past few days, in fact, when I’ve been chomping at the proverbial bit to deliver the conclusion of a series only to feel that oh-so-familiar nudge in my spirit. You know… the one that says to a Christ-follower, you’re not quite finished; let go and let Me.
Because when this happens in my life, I wonder whether the expressions on any of their faces matches mine. You know… the one that looks like, But Lord, this makes no sense.
Think about it. Buoyed by the fact that He was even with them at this time – after His terribly-rigged trial, crucifixion, death and burial, He really had risen and was sitting here with them– I can almost see them wide-eyed with wonder, waiting to be commissioned to the next exciting phase of their ministry.
And then comes what must surely have been the anti-climactic moment of the entire meal: Don’t leave town…wait…
Absolutely true is the fact that the gift each disciple was to wait to receive – the filling and indwelling of the Holy Spirit – would be paramount to the success of their ministry for Christ (see John 14:16-17). But chances are that these guys didn’t fully understand its full importance as they sat at the table that day. Chances are that – if they were anything like me (and maybe like you) – they were just bursting to minister, to serve, to go, to do. Something. Anything.
We serve an all-powerful God Who can do anything at any time in the blink of an eye; figuratively speaking, He could have just given His Holy Spirit to the disciples then and there and sent them on there way. So why didn’t He do that?
While we can’t pretend to know the mind of God, let me suggest to you that the exercise of waiting in Jerusalem likely taught the disciples – and, by extension, believers since that time – a lesson larger than life: that how we choose to wait on the Difference Maker directly affects the difference we make in conjunction with the Difference Maker.
Whether we care to admit it or not, the practice of waiting on God is a habit essential to the walk of any believer; without it; we tend to take charge of our own situations. For me personally, taking the reins never ends nearly as well as I had hoped. Besides, learning to wait for God is, hands down, the one treatment for stress, anxiety and tension that will not fail. In fact, I have learned through years of experience that – in life and in prayer – as far as spiritual disciplines go, this one is a must-have when it comes to defeating the stresses of everyday life that come like jabbing darts from Satan. Scripture, in fact, makes this idea abundantly clear by stating that Godis good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord (Lamentations 3:25-26).
So what, exactly, is involved in developing this habit of learning to wait on God? How does one build the spiritual muscle required to keep waiting for a day, a year or – depending on His perfect timing – 10, 20, 30 years? Basically, the habit requires that a person set aside daily time to sit quietly in God’s presence as Christ directed the disciples (see Matthew 6:6). Ideally, a person might set aside a certain time each day to do this; but since life hasn’t been ideal since the Fall (see Genesis 3) don’t count yourself out of exercise if you can’t afford the luxury of scheduled quietness. Improvise by using time when your driving alone, waiting in the reception area before an appointment, walking the dog, waiting in car-riders line at school…whatever works. But be sure – and this is important – to put the book down, turn off television and radio, silence or power off the cell phone, leave the tablet face-down, put the to-do list and anything else Satan can use to distract you out of reach or sight.
Because mark it: if he can distract you from waiting on God, he will distract you from waiting on God. And he’ll dance a gleeful jig while he’s doing it.
A number of experts in the area of spiritual discipline maintain that, in regard to waiting on God, a believer should take several deep breaths, then simply wait tight-lipped and without speaking for God to move once he or she enters the window of quietness described above. If this works for you, then by all means go for it. If you lean a little more heavily toward the articulate side of things, though, that’s okay too. I totally sympathize because I have a real tendency for briefly – okay, sometimes not so briefly – reminding God of what’s going on in my world; you know, just in case His omniscience lapsed momentarily yesterday or something. I make that last statement facetiously and with reverent humor. The reality is that although I tend to be chatty at the onset of my quietness with Him, my awe-filled silence covers much of our window of quietness; and the quietness rarely ends without His voice touching the core of my spirit, even in times when I hear nothing more from Him than wait.
Ironically, even in those times when I do hear nothing more thanwait, I step away from that window of quietness renewed, refreshed and inexplicably calm. And sooner or later – in His perfect timing – the waiting ends and – in His perfect way – God delivers to us as surely as He delivered to the disciples.
That’s the power that touches a life willing to wait onthe Difference Maker in order to make a difference in conjunction with the Difference Maker.
So I have a challenge for you as we continue in this series. Last week, I asked you to join me in seven days of prayer for the United States, its people, its leaders. If I may, I’d like to extend this request and again state that it has no bearing on specific political parties or candidates. Let’s face it: the next 30 days or so present a crucial, critical opportunity for Christ-followers in American culture.
Four Sundays remain between the publishing of this post and Election Day 2018. As we weigh the issues, consider the candidates and take our turn during these weeks to go into the voting booth, you and I – as followers of Jesus Christ – have the opportunity to wait with effectiveness. And an important first step toward waiting effectively in any situation is to stay in direct conversation with God through sincere, dedicated prayer.
In a nutshell, I propose that – using the acronym PRAY over these four weeks – we extend our time together in prayer as a means of making a difference with the Difference Maker before concluding this series. The plan focuses on one letter of the word PRAYper week:
- Week 1: Praise;
- Week 2: Repentance;
- Week 3: Asking (or intercession); and
- Week 4: Yielding with thankful hearts to God’s sovereign will for America’s future.
Thank you so much for joining His Own Heart in this venture!
– Copyright 2018 Carole Anne Hallyburton. All rights reserved.