The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. Gathering them together, He 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 1:1-8
I have the privilege of coaching some young pastors in the area of leadership and mission. Some of them are in very difficult situations. One is serving a church that he assesses to be diing. Another has experienced five staff people leaving in the past two weeks. Still another is just recently called to serve as senior pastor of his church with a heavy load to carry and the absence of an associate pastor along side him. Still another is facing staffing, pastoral care, and various challenges.
In our conversation today we agreed that God is at work in the midst of the turmoil all around us. We just don’t always understand or perceive what he is doing.
This is nothing new. In a significantly different way the disciples showed that they did not know what God was up to when they ask Jesus, “Will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus tells them that their question is not one the answer to which they need to know. The goodness of God and his providential directing of the affairs of men help us to understand that a roadmap to the future is often a hinderance, not a help to faith.
We want to know what God is up to. But God wants us to believe in him. Trust in him. Hope in him. Put our faith in him. Knowing what he’s up to in any particular moment may make us more smug and focused on engineering our life in light of what we know will happen rather than relying on God’s goodness, love, and grace.
We may wonder what God is up to. When we do, God invites us to lean on him, fear, love, and trust in him. He is up to something ultimately very good. It involves our salvation, and our part in bringing that salvation to people from all nations and peoples.