The first chapter of Acts is pretty much an introduction that sets the stage for the rest of the book. Luke starts off by recapping what happened from Jesus’ resurrection to his ascension, then he tells how the apostles chose a replacement for Judas. That’s it. It didn’t seem like much until the Lord drew my attention to one word in verse 4: wait. He challenged me to read the chapter again through the eyes of the apostles as they were waiting. So I did. And when I did, he taught me some really important lessons about what I should be doing when Jesus is asking me to wait. (Notice I say should because if I was already doing these things, I would not have needed this lesson this morning!)
The first thing he showed me is that just because I know what he wants me to do doesn’t mean I’m supposed to do it right now. This is a TOUGH one for me! Once I know I’ve heard from God about something, it is so hard for me to not just dive right into doing it. Thank goodness the apostles didn’t have that problem! Jesus had very clearly told them what he needed them to do. They were supposed to be his witnesses and make disciples all over the world. But, he was equally clear that they needed to wait for God’s promise of the Holy Spirit before they started. Sure, the apostles could have taken off to tell everyone they met about the good news of Jesus. But, Jesus knew that they needed the power of the Holy Spirit or they would never be able to endure everything they would face. Waiting was key to the success of the mission Jesus had given them.
Man, do I need to work on this. I’m pretty good about waiting on the Lord to tell me what I’m supposed to do, but I stink at waiting on him to tell me when I’m supposed to do it. But, if the what is going to work, the when is critical.
The second thing he showed me is that I don’t have to know every single step of the plan to be obedient to the parts I do know. This is another TOUGH one for me! I am a planner. I like to have a list, and I like to check the boxes. But, that doesn’t mean I always get to, and it surely doesn’t mean I get to decide the parts of the plan he hasn’t told me about yet! The apostles wanted to know if Jesus was about to restore God’s kingdom. They wanted to know the whole plan. But, Jesus basically told them that they didn’t need to worry about it. They just needed to do what he had asked them to do.
Man, do I need to work on this one too. I can’t put my obedience on my terms. And I can’t replace his plan with mine just because I don’t want to wait to find out what his plan is. Sometimes he won’t give me his full plan, and I have to be OK with moving forward obediently while I’m waiting on him tell me what comes next.
The third thing he showed me is that the most important thing I can do while I’m waiting is to pray. In fact, the apostles “devoted themselves” to prayer while they were waiting on the Holy Spirit. Instead of worrying about how long they’d have to wait or trying to figure out how the Holy Spirit would come, they consumed themselves with prayer.
This isn’t exactly my strong suit either. I’m awful about just trying to figure everything out. (See #2 above.) But, what I should be doing is fully trusting God and leaning on him completely through prayer while I’m waiting.
Which leads me to the last thing he showed me: I’ve got to totally and completely trust his plan whether I know all of it or not. The one thing the apostles did do in this chapter while they were waiting on the Holy Spirit was to choose a replacement for Judas. But, they knew God had already selected who that person would be. They knew God had been preparing that person since before Jesus’ ministry even started. Even in this period of waiting, they completely trusted God and his plan.
I like to think that I fully trust God. But, today he was asking me, Do you really trust my timing when I’m asking you to wait? Do you really trust my plan when I don’t tell you what it is?
And all I could think was, Do I really have to answer that?
Sometimes Jesus asks us to wait. And that’s OK. Even if I don’t like it when he does.