A haunting midnight question
So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him,
“Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”
He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, an to the ends of the earth.
What’s going to happen in the future? That’s what we crave to know, just as the apostles did. But is that really what they wondered? Because if it was, the Lord missed it. And how could He miss it?! God, who knows every hair on our heads and every word before spoken, did He really not understand the intent of the question? Unimaginable.
God not only heard the words, He heard the fear. Not so much what is going to happen, but will they be able to cope, to perform, to succeed? I relate to those unspoken insecurities of the heart.
I woke in the night recently with aches in my joints. I imagined what life could be like in ten years with stiff joints. Coaxing myself back to sleep, I dreamed of reading Mayo’s Book of Arthritis.
As I prepared breakfast and readied myself for time with the Lord, I thought of an upcoming talk at a women’s tea. And I wondered who would come and what they needed to hear and what I might say … playing out a number of personal crisis scenarios in the ladies’ lives.
In both cases I didn’t really wonder about the future – one with painful joins and one with an unprepared speech. I really wondered something else. I really wondered the same as the apostles asking about the Kingdom: Would I have the power to do and be? That’s the real question about the future, isn’t it?
And the Lord whispered His answer. In a few words, He answered every future question with one glorious, insightful, reassuring answer. The answer that would quiet a troubled mind and soul in that moment and in all the hundreds of shout-outs and silent cries to Him through the generations that would follow:
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes.”
And isn’t that all we really need to know? Because the Lord is our Shepherd, we have everything we need (Psalm 23:1). Today, tomorrow, at the next week’s assignment and the next decade’s worn body. The Lord will be there, in the form of His indwelling Spirit, equipping us to do and to please Him.
That’s the full answer, isn’t it? Emmanuel. God with us. All questions settled with that simple, powerful answer.
“Faith is unutterable trust in God,
trust which never dreams that He will not stand by us.”
- Oswald Chambers
Pull up a chair and sit still
What scenario in your future is haunting you? In this moment of stillness, can you imagine God’s presence there?