Roadmaps and Walks of Faith

Acts 1:1-14

 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard 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 asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

Parakeet | London, England | April 2023

We’re exploring Big Bend National Park. It took an hour to get from our hotel to the entrance of the park, then another 45 minutes to get to the visitor center. From there we made our trek using the maps the park rangers provided us – along with some helpful recommendations. Tomorrow our circuit will be a 5-hour trip, not including any stops, hikes, or delays. I’ve mapped it out on my phone. Should be quite a day. The maps and planning will help us make the most of our time here, and allow us to see the sights we are interested in.

When it comes to our walk of faith, however, roadmaps are seldom available, and often unhelpful. We map out our lives, our plans for job, family, career, and retirement. We may even have a plan for our final days and even our funeral. Those may also be good and helpful.

But there are always adjustments to be made – unless we hew stubbornly to a path in spite of the danger or warning signs we encounter. Tom Peters observed, in fact, that companies that have strategic plans and adhere to them are not as successful as those who have strategic plans and make adjustments to them along the way. We may think we know where we need to go, but we may be mistaken. We may need to make adjustments.

When the disciples ask Jesus if this was to be the time he would restore the kingdom to Israel, he not only didn’t answer. He told them it was not for them to know. A roadmap to the future would be a hindrance, not a help to faith. Jesus would supply a different sort of roadmap. Start in Jerusalem, go on to Judea, proceed to Samaria, and go to the ends of the earth. That’s not a roadmap. But it is a plan they were to follow…one step at a time. He also promises the Holy Spirit to them as their source of power for their journey.

Ours (yours and mine) may not be as daunting as the disciples in Jerusalem. But it is no less a calling, requiring the Holy Spirit’s power and strength. There are no maps for this life’s journey. But Jesus promises to be with us every step of the way. Wherever we go and however we serve him.

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