Why must we wait?
I’m not really good at waiting…unless I have my iPhone or iPad and a good connection to the internet. I can check my email. I can play a game of solitaire. I can read news articles. I can listen to a book or a podcast. All while I’m waiting. But that’s not really waiting, is it. That’s more like killing time. Filling the void of boredom rather than waiting in the fullest sense of the term.
Waiting in the best sense of the term involves also hoping and trusting. For example, “Those who wait/trust/hope in the LORD shall renew their strength,” says Isaiah (Isaiah 40:31). When we wait on the promises of God, we also hope for their consummation and trust God to fulfill them.
So when Jesus tells the Apostles not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father (the Holy Spirit), he is calling for them to do more than kill time. He is promising them something (someone) to engender trust as well as for which they might hope. He is also reminding them to rest and prepare themselves for the adventure of a lifetime. They will need their energy. They will be pressed into service in ways they cannot imagine. Even Jesus’ promise that they will be his witnesses is beyond their comprehension. How would they witness of him to the ends of the earth? So Jesus says to wait.
I’ve long appreciated the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing people to faith. I love Martin Luther’s explanation to the third article of the Apostle’s Creed: I believe I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him. But the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel… The Holy Spirit has engendered faith in my heart. Thanks be to God. But that’s not all the Holy Spirit does. He compels me to share my faith. He propels the good news of Jesus to more and more hearts. He furthers the Mission of God. We who are reading this are testimony of the Holy Spirit’s work to that end.
There is a mystery here: we, like the Apostles, are to rest, wait, hope, trust, and prepare for this great work to which God is calling us. We are to engage fully as God gives us the opportunity in witnessing to Jesus’ work in our lives. We are to devote ourselves fully to his work. And it is God who is at work in us to do all this. In other words we are to wait and rest in anticipation and preparation for our work in God’s mission. But it is his work to bring people to himself.
I think I need to wait and ponder, and pray about all this. How am I to wait today, heavenly Father? Help me to see the opportunities you provide and act on them; for your glory, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and in Jesus’ name. Amen.