Go. We go to work. We go to class. We go to the movies (if we can still afford to). We’re always going somewhere it seems. If we’re not, then the assumption is that we’re lazy. Motion equals purpose in most of our minds. Or, in the Christian context, it means we’re on mission. Jesus told us to “go and make disciples” and Francis Chan warns us not to “make excuses.” Everything seems to fall on us going.
But what about waiting? When’s the last time you were encouraged or had that often prayed for, yet (just as often) rarely attainable peace in waiting? Most encouragement to wait usually surrounds talks about purity and singleness. Beyond that, who really waits anymore? You have a dream; make it a reality! You want to try something new; do it today! Tomorrow isn’t promised; so, get going!
While waiting can be counterproductive, in Acts 1 we find that everything seemed to fall on the apostles not going (just yet), but instead waiting.
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.” (Acts 1:4-5 ESV)
They were eager. They’d witnessed the resurrection of the dead. They’d seen more than enough to keep sharing! Why wait?
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.” (Acts 1:8 ESV)
Waiting meant not going and relying on their own abilities now that Christ was physically leaving, but gaining the power of God in the form of the Holy Spirit. They needed to wait on something better. But let the record show, their waiting was not to be a static, do nothing at all in the meantime kind of waiting.
And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 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.” (Acts 1:10-11 ESV)
Imagine watching someone disappear before your very eyes. Or maybe more realistic to us, consider when the unexpected happens in your life. The abruptness leaves you stagnant. For the apostles, while it wasn’t time to go anywhere physically, the time was ripe for them to do something:
All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. (Acts 1:14 ESV)
While they waited, with undoubtedly tons of questions in their hearts, the apostles gathered with others to pray. And their waiting was not in vain. It turned out to be the difference between the 120 brothers in the faith at the opening of Acts 1 and the 3,000 at the close of Acts 2 only days later. Waiting, in this case, was the most productive thing they could have done.
God, grant us the wisdom to discern the best course of action in our own lives. May your Holy Spirit direct us when to go and when to actively wait.