Read His Words Before Ours!
The walls felt like they were closing in with every passing day.
It was Day 9 of sheltering-in-place for us 11 remaining disciples, after Judas’ reckless decision to solve a temporary problem with a horribly permanent solution. My insides still quaked at the memory of his face, strangled by a noose made with his own hands. I shook my head to clear it, focusing on the troupe of ants dotting the limestone walls where I sat. They were purposeful. Intentional. Clearly headed to a goal, working together as a family.
“Consider the ant, you slacker…”
The familiar Old Testament proverb (Proverbs 6:6) came unbidden to mind in the warm, firm voice of my father as he raised his eyebrows at my 10-year-old self, who had only partially finished chopping wood. I repeated the words, letting them linger with my father’s voice wrapping around me.
“If only it was as easy as picking up that ax, Abba,” I muttered, rising to pace. Again. Leaving the ant family behind, I realized with fresh angst that I was here.
Here, in this place of “almost, but not yet.”
It had been 9 days for us Eleven, less for the 120 other faces I scanned. They’d come sporadically in the last week, as if drawn by an unseen force of comfort and hope through community. Word spread, and soon, this Upper Room was bursting at the seams.
We were all here, waiting.
Waiting for next.
Sheltering, not sure exactly what next would be or how we would recognize it.
It seemed like a lifetime ago when Jesus and the 12 had sat in this very room the night before He was betrayed, then brutally killed.
“You will receive power,” Jesus’ voice filled my senses again with rich love and unshakeable authority. He said we would receive His power and comfort.
Oh, the tender comfort of Jesus! Despite the stench of 120 unwashed bodies sprawled around the Upper Room, I saw Jesus in every pair of eyes. The woman from the well in Samaria. She was here with several friends whom she’d told about Jesus. Once outcast, but now, waiting like the rest of us.
Mary, Jesus’ mother, was here, of course, and her sister, Salome. The man healed from leprosy at a word from Jesus was praying in a corner with James. Grinning, I waved at the 5 men who took turns challenging each other to arm wrestling. Not long ago, the robust man in the middle had lain paralyzed on a mat carried by the other four friends. Now they were whole and healthy because of Jesus.
The woman Jesus called Daughter, healed from bleeding, was handing out fruit and blessing each recipient. Hey, there’s the centurion whose daughter was brought back to life, and his little girl, too! Gentiles; my stomach churned only a little. These were welcomed by my Savior and my God; surely, they could be present here, too.
Waiting for the Comforter.
The same comfort each person gathered here had experienced in Jesus’ physical presence before He had ascended into the clouds nine days ago.
Nine days of sharing community in the bond of knowing and experiencing Jesus. This was enough to keep us here until His Promised power and comfort finally came…however long it took. Our nights were spent singing hymns and our days were filled with the intangible joy of shared laughter and the sweetness of prayer. The outside world carried on with their hurry, but here, we delighted again in the depth of community with one another and God.
Here, in “almost but not yet,” we wait. We wonder. What good thing might the Lord be giving us through His Spirit that is better than His physical body?
The very next day would end Peter’s wait. One moment would begin as mundane, only to exhale as magnificent glory. The Spirit of the Living God would descend on each believer, regardless of Jew or Gentile, wealth or poverty, single or married, male or female. What they had once experienced with Jesus in the flesh would now be ignited in the heart of every person who ever trusted Christ. In the blink of an eye, holy divinity instantly and permanently bound every believer together. Comfort became infinitely available. His Presence was a guarantee, never to leave, ensuring the soul would pass from this fleeting life into one that would never end.
In the span of a single moment, the sacred space that had felt so empty for Peter was plunged into an infinite invitation to come, to know God better, deeper than ever before, for He Lived Within!
Power and boldness became the rightful possession for every soul gathered in the Upper Room that Day of Pentecost. Divine purpose was theirs in abundance. Comfort bound them up, together with each other, and jointly as the Bride of Christ.
As incredible as that moment was,
even it was an Almost, But Not Yet.
For here, in this same space, you and I wait, too.
We have His Spirit if we have called Jesus our own Savior.
Every gift those disciples experienced is also ours for the taking.
Yet, here we wait.
Paused with inexplicable hope, waiting for that Day of Going Home forever.
In the meantime, we are the Church, moving among one another, blessing each other, sustaining and carrying each other’s burdens, praying fervently, worshipping, and, as wonderfully led by the Spirit of God, preaching Christ crucified, risen, and coming again to a world hurrying around us.
Almost, But Not Yet.
We are here now.
Let’s live together as His Bride on purpose, and filled with His Spirit!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!