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Holy Spirit/Pentecost: Pentecostal Waiting (Acts 2:1-21)

By Craig M. Watts
Imagine this: a nation has endured a series of hostile actions from a neighboring state. Attempts to negotiate have failed. Every diplomatic channel has been used, but to no avail. Finally, the president of the nation declares war against the aggressor. With a sense of urgency, the other political leaders and the generals listen for guidance from the president. He gathers them together and says, "There is a retreat center here in the capital. I want you to go there and wait." "Wait?" they ask in astonishment. "Yes," he answers, "Wait."

Imagine this: one of the Big Three automobile companies continues to lose money quarter after quarter. Its market share is in dramatic decline. The CEO resigns. The board of directors brings in the best possible person they can find for the job. They expect him to hit the ground running. He contacts all the department heads and tells them to go to the conference room and plan to be there for a good long while. "Shall we bring in our market research? Do you want to see what we've been doing in Development? Are we going to review our last strategic plan?" they ask. "No," he replies. "We're going to wait." "Wait?" they echo. "That's right," he says. "Wait."

All of us have some experience with waiting. Who can't recall the delight of going to the doctor's office? Don't you wish you could charge the doctor for your time? No doubt you've had the joy of waiting in the grocery store check-out line. You sometimes start to wonder if your discount coupons are going to expire before you ever get to the cashier.

And then, of course, some of you are well acquainted with the great fun of waiting for a spouse. "I'm almost ready." Forty-five minutes later, you finally get in the car. Waiting is among our high points in life, isn't it?

Sure. Mostly we feel like it's empty space, dead time, fruitless, a frustrating nothing that we have to endure between happenings. The less we wait, the happier we are.

You can imagine the feelings of the followers of Jesus. They had seen the enemies of the Lord take Him and crucify Him. They were devastated by the defeat. They were disillusioned by the apparently failed leadership of Jesus. They had pinned all their hopes on His messiahship, only to see Him overwhelmed by His opposition and killed.

But then -- elation! -- He broke free from death and the grave. In a startling act of God, Jesus was raised from the dead. The disciples were terrified and overjoyed. For forty days the risen Christ strengthened their faith, restored their hope and taught them His truth. Can you imagine anything more thrilling, more inspiring? Those followers who had fled from the cross were ready to charge into the world. They had regained their courage and momentum for ministry. Jesus just had to point and they were ready to take off.

The disciples were straining at the reigns. They were filled with urgency. You can hear it in the question they asked Jesus. "Lord, is now the time when you will bring in the kingdom of God, and restore Israel to a glory not known before? We're ready, Lord." But Jesus answered, "That's God's business. You just need to find a nice room in Jerusalem where you can wait."

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