Waiting is not an easy task for me. I’ve been known to drive miles out of the way to avoid being delayed by a train. I’ve been caught sneaking food from the dish before it was placed on the table. I’ve evaluated the check-out lanes at Wal-Mart in order to choose the one with the shortest wait. I always choose wrong. Always. The microwave society that is the Western world has not helped to develop the fruit of patience (longsuffering?) in my life, and I find that it has done nothing to benefit our culture. I don’t have to drive in LA to know that road rage simmers on the pavement of I-5.
This week we celebrate Ascension Day. An interesting conversation happened on this last day of Jesus’ physical presence on earth. He was telling them to wait. He was answering their questions of, “is this when?” with a, “God’s times are none of your business.”
It’s funny that even after three years of walking alongside Jesus, living through the agony of his death, and celebrating his resurrection, they were still anticipating a coup on the Roman government (Acts 1:6). They had waited long enough. The nation of Israel had waited long enough.
“Wait,” he said. “Wait for the Father’s promise.” “Wait for the power you will receive.” “Wait for the Holy Spirit.”
And he was gone.
So they waited. They took care of some pre-church “business.” They waited some more.
Jesus didn’t tell them how long they would need to wait to receive God’s promise. Instead of grumbling, sighing, looking at their watches, complaining to the front desk staff, or checking for messages on their phones, they united in prayer. I don’t know what they prayed, but I don’t suppose it matters now.
They waited for 10 days. Ten days of not knowing how long they needed to wait and not understanding what they were waiting for but believing Jesus: that something was going to happen.
When it happened, they knew. All of Jerusalem knew. Pentecost came in a blaze of glory! Almost 2,000 years later, I’ve benefitted from that wait.
My reality makes this story painful. How often have I given up waiting on God’s promise because I didn’t see a “will expire on” stamp? How much have I missed because I was not submitted to God’s timeline? Like a petulant child, I’ve demanded answers right now, and I know, even within my own parenting, that a child who behaves in that manner rarely, if ever, gets that for which he or she asks.
The 10 days between Ascension Day and Pentecost is my yearly reminder that good things come to those who wait. That waiting is essential for growth within my spiritual journey. Those 10 days were not recorded as a time of uncertainty and frustration, but as a time of prayer and purpose.
My own prayer is that when God asks me to wait, whether for a week or for a season, I will do it well.