In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:1-10
I remember back on March 31, 2007. I was taking a break from raking the snow mould off my front lawn, chatting with my neighbour Doug. There were a few small piles of icy snow that I had broken up so they could melt faster. I was waiting – not for Spring, but for Bonnie as she completed our move from Stettler. I had moved on January 3rd, and she was finally done her contract and able to move the kids and the rest of our stuff. And then suddenly, as if I had never been waiting, she was driving up the crescent. What a wonderful day that was. It closed one chapter of our lives, and opened the door to the next one.
We wait in many places of life. Ben told me this past week that we spend, on average, waiting for seven weeks of our life at stop lights. I waited yesterday in the line-up at Safeway while a nice, little old lady fumbled about trying to get the correct coins for the cashier. I also waited to pay for my gas while the guy in front of me cashed in several lottery tickets, and then purchased several more. I spent many days with Frank, waiting for doctors and procedures. Sometimes we wait for spouses, or they wait for us, as we are off to some function or meeting together.
Let me ask you a question – What have you found to be useful or productive while waiting for something or someone?
In college, all the Greek students would put the Greek vocabulary on half-sized index cards and hang them on a ring from a belt loop or back pack. When waiting in line at the cafeteria or somewhere, you could flip through the cards and work on memorizing the translation, and verb tenses, and all of that. Some people memorize verses that way. Others pray for people. In the months I was waiting for Bonnie I did some painting and initial renovation work on the house.
Jesus is coming again. Soon. One question to ask is what are we doing while waiting for Him? When I was waiting for Bonnie I was not just doing stuff to pass the time. I was working to help prepare the house for when she would come and be living there. Jesus is coming back to claim His kingdom, and today we are living in His kingdom. What are we doing to prepare the kingdom for His return? Biblically, we start with ourselves. The pursuit of holiness is not just about today, but also about being prepared for Jesus and His Kingdom when He returns. As individuals there are things we can and should be about to get ready, to be ready for his return. We finished a short study on spiritual disciplines this fall – that is a wonderful starting place to be ready for the Second Coming – Scripture intake, prayer, connecting, giving, receiving – all key elements for the Christian life.
Here’s the other thing: Bonnie’s arrival to Saskatoon wasn’t just an event, even though that was the year the province lowered the GST to 5%, the population passed 1 million, and we had a wind storm and snow storm that were both once in fifty years. I celebrated her coming because of the relationship we have. We were together, and had been looking forward to ministering in the church together, to working on the house together, to raising our family together. It was about proximity. And in the interim time, while I was waiting for her return, I was talking with her as much as I could. I missed her!
So, when we think about Jesus’ return, are we thinking about His presence? Do we miss Him? He will be here in a way we have never experienced before. We will be able to walk with Him and talk with Him along the way. We will be able to look into his eyes, see the scars in his wrists. We will hear his voice. Sometimes we can get comfortable with the distance. We work it out so we are close, yet still have freedom to do our own thing, in our own time, and when we think of the Second Coming it will be more of a cramp on our thing, rather than the fulfillment of all that we have been waiting and planning for.
When Jesus came the first time, He ended up making things inconvenient. He upset the order of the day, turned the world upside down as it were. Are we ready for that, or are we expecting it will be life as normal? Do we want the world upside down? Do we look at the world through His eyes, or our own? The Second Coming will upset a lot of things – but these are things that will pass. Are you ready for the Second Coming, even if it isn’t quite what we expect? In the Nativity story, everyone made it through with God’s help. When Jesus comes again, the same thing will happen – we will make it through whatever comes because our Saviour, our Friend will be with us in the flesh. I can’t imagine what life will be like then, whether we are sill alive when He comes, or if we will meet Him on the way from beyond the grave. We will see our loved ones again in that day. He is coming – the waiting is almost over.