Lately between sermons, Bible studies, and conversations, there has been a reoccuring theme of patience. I don’t know about you, but patience is not normally my thing. In some cases, sure. Many times, though, my business-oriented upbringing comes out in that make-it-happen mindset. In the business world, “no” means “try harder” and waiting too long to make the next improvement puts your organization’s growth at risk. There is a place for strategic patience, but there are also many decisions happening quickly in order to keep up with the fast pace of change.
I read Acts 1 last week at Bible study, and once again, patience came up. In verses 4-8 specifically, Jesus is talking with the apostles after His resurrection:
“Gathering them together, He [Jesus] commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, ‘Which,’ He said, ‘you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’
“So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, ‘Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.’” – Acts 1:4-8 (NASB)
There are a few lessons I love from these verses:
1. Jesus gathered the apostles together. The promise was for each of them, but it was intended for each of them together as a community. Independent introverts, I’m looking at you 😉 Yes, it feels safer by yourself, but you’ll be both stretched and encouraged in amazing ways by a God-loving community.
2. The apostles had an idea of what they thought the promise was going to look like. They even asked Jesus, “Is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom of Israel?” After all, Jesus had talked about it.
Jesus’ response, though? “It is not for you to know times…which the Father has fixed by His own authority.” The promise was coming, but it didn’t look like what the apostles had in mind. They saw and longed for that victory, but God saw an even bigger picture – One that has transcended farther than just their generation and continues still today. They had to trust God’s decision-making, though.
3. The apostles were given power to carry out what God was asking them to do. Jesus asked them to wait, but He knew the promise that was coming would equip believers to live out what God had so intentionally created each of them to do. Was it always easy? No. But if you keep reading to Acts 2:42-47, those believers experienced a type of love and community that sounds absolutely beautiful.
The promise wasn’t what the apostles thought it would be, but I admire the way they chose to handle it. Even while they were waiting for their promise, they acknowledged God’s wisdom and trustworthiness. Before making an important decision in Acts 1:21-26, the apostles stopped and turned to God, praying, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these…” (v. 24). They had such a complete trust in God, the wait for their promise didn’t lead them to question His decision-making. They knew Him, they loved Him, and they turned to Him because they knew He would know the right thing to do.
Isn’t that cool? Again, I’m not usually a very patient person. When it looks like things aren’t moving, I have to fight the tendency to go into “What’s it going to take to get it done?” mode. That being said, the past couple months have kinda been blowing my mind as God has started to show a whole new way of looking at, well, a lot of things. It’s incredible to me that He would take the time to so carefully plan out the timing of our lives, and somehow they all connect and lend to one another.
Our mountains, our valleys, and everything in between all come together to form one breathtaking landscape. We don’t have to trust Him. We can keep stubbornly fighting Him if that’s what we choose. Trusting someone who loves us so much He was willing to die for us seems like a much better plan than frantically grasping for control, though. What we see in part, He sees in full. And He promises that those who find their refuge in Him will never be put to shame:
“…And you will know that I am the Lord; Those who hopefully wait for Me will not be put to shame.” – Isaiah 49:23b (NASB)
“For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed [Literal: put to shame].'” – Romans 10:11 (NASB)
Here’s to the journey!