Pastor Billy referenced a Scripture passage in yesterday morning's sermon that I noted to look up again later, when I could spend a little more time thinking about it without getting distracted from the message at hand.
Acts 1:6-8 reads, 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."
Yesterday, it was the last verse of that passage that particularly caught my interest. I want to know what it is to be empowered and emboldened by the Holy Spirit to share the gospel of Christ, and I want to see and redeem opportunities to share this gospel with others, both here in my community and elsewhere. This has been a prayer of mine for some time now, yet I feel like I am still waiting to see it answered. God is not answering my prayer the way I sort of imagined - you know, like Peter at Pentecost. Nope, nothing spectacular at all. But I keep praying, and yesterday, this passage encouraged me to keep on praying and to keep my eyes open for opportunities, however small, to speak to others of God's grace shown to us in Christ.
However, it wasn't until this morning that I actually sat down and re-read the passage. Funny how, this morning, it hit me in a totally different way.
Today, I woke up with a heart heavy over a broken relationship that I have long desired to be mended. No, not depressed...rather, just a sad weariness. Despite years of praying, despite years of others praying alongside me, this particular relationship - once such a delight! - is still characterized by very little intimacy and no honest communication. Oh, how I long for restoration, yet it seems impossible. Lord, how long?!
Then, I sat down for my morning read - several chapters in Jeremiah and a few in Hebrews. Before setting my Bible aside, I pulled out yesterday's bulletin. What was that passage I wanted to look up again?
"Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" Christ's disciples asked Him in verse 6. For me, the question seemed vaguely similar: Lord, will you at this time restore this broken relationship? Lord, at this time will you make right what has gone horribly wrong? Lord, at this time, will you make all things new?
Christ's answer? "It is not for you to know..."
That might not seem like a very encouraging answer at first. I'm kinda tired here, barely hanging on, Lord. I feel like giving up. It really would be nice to know that soon - very soon - You are going to step in and make everything right. I think I could hang in here a little longer if You'd just tell me that restoration is very close at hand.
"It's not for you to know..." Not a very encouraging answer, except for what follows. "It is not for you to know....BUT..."
Don't you just love that word? BUT...
"But you will receive power..." God has assured me that He will give me the strength I need, when I need it.
"...when the Holy Spirit has come upon you..." That strength will be the presence and power of God Himself, dwelling within me in the person of His Spirit.
"...and you will be my witnesses..." The effect of the presence of God in my life will be that I will indeed be a witness to my Savior, Jesus.
I will receive power, through the Holy Spirit, and I will be His witness. The language in this passage is emphatic. It will happen...no possibility that it will not. That is huge encouragement indeed, both as I look for opportunities to share Christ with others and as I struggle to honor Christ in the midst of a broken relationship. Looks like I need to struggle less with When, and rest and glory more in the God who has made such a great and sure promise.
2 days ago