Is anything more difficult than being patient?
One of my least favorite activities is to wait.
Most of us want action. We want to move on and get things done. Unfortunately, we have plenty of times when we have to wait. We all understand, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10), but we certainly don’t relish the thought of being still or waiting.
I’m sure it must have been the same way with the early believers in Jerusalem. Jesus gave them explicit instructions to stay in the city until God’s gift of His Spirit had been bestowed upon them.
We understand why they had to wait. They couldn’t do what God wanted in their own feeble power. They needed His power and His work in their lives.
To say that the disciples waited in obedience to Jesus does not mean they were idle.
During that 50 days from the time of the crucifixion to the ascension to the day of Pentecost, they set important decisions in motion and spent significant time preparing for the future. What they did can help us understand what we can do in times when we have to wait or have to be patient.
What did they do and what can we do when we wait?
First, those early believers received their commission (Acts 1:6–8). This was an important commission that could not be hurried or left out. This commissioning to be witnesses (a word used 29 times in Acts) would affect everything they did and everything believers do until the return of Jesus to the earth. They were to begin where they were–in Jerusalem–and take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
Second, they saw Christ go into heaven (Acts 1:9-12). This event showed them a number of major lessons they would need. They learned that Jesus would return even as He had left. They understood that God would give them what they needed to do His work. Specifically, the gift of the Spirit would be bestowed upon them. They would not be left without what they needed.
Third, they persevered together in prayer (Acts 1:13–14). Part of their prayer would have been for God’s Spirit to come. I can’t explain how important this step is while we are waiting. All of life has a waiting period to it. What would happen if we all spent these waiting times as a time to persevere in prayer? Our prayer strengthens us and prepares us for the future. As we pray, we spend time with God and draw closer to Him. These are vital elements of a strong and healthy Christian life.
Fourth, they replaced Judas with Matthias as the 12th apostle (Acts 1:21–26). This, too, prepared them for what would happen in the future. Waiting is not all bad. God can use it to bring about reformation of our character and to prepare us for what the future will hold.
We all have to wait. Let us determine to use these downtimes to get us ready for the rest of our lives.
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