Easter to Pentecost: Waiting for the Spirit
By Clarisse Tchatchou
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 baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.’
Then they gathered round 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.’
‘I can’t wait till next Christmas!’ exclaimed my little 6 year old boy after unwrapping his presents last Christmas! How do you respond to such a statement on Christmas day?
The expression ‘I can’t wait till…’ has become so familiar within our culture that being asked to wait for anything is irritating. Who can blame anyone for not having enough patience in an era where everything is fast-tracked, where more and more devices are being developed to ‘make life easier’? Gone are the days when there were only a few options for keeping in touch: the days when you had to wait patiently to hear from loved ones living far away; the days when travelling to the library or taking field trips was essential if you wanted to gather enough information to produce an essay or dissertation worth considering. Now with all the technologies available everyone is just one click away from one another.
Waiting has become an exceedingly difficult exercise even for the most faithful and spiritual person: waiting for the Holy Spirit to bring comfort while we are hurting; to resolve an issue we have been struggling with for ages; to open a door that has remained closed for so long; to fulfil a dream God gave us or a promise from his word; to restore peace when our heart has been torn apart. Waiting for these things can be challenging at times and don’t compare to simply waiting in the queue either over the phone or at the supermarket.
The recent outbreak of Covid-19 has not made it easier for any of us. In our confinement, we are all waiting for the day life will resume to whatever the new ‘normal’ looks like. The words of the psalmist ‘Wait upon the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord’ (Psalm 27:14) have never seemed more appropriate.
We are not the first people to be faced with the waiting challenge. A bunch of people who gave up everything to follow Jesus were left waiting too:
‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.’
Waiting for the resurrection had proved to be very difficult for some of them who gave in to discouragement and confusion irrespective of all the warnings Jesus gave them in order to prepare their minds for those few critical days. How often have we fallen into the same trap when it comes to waiting upon the Lord? How often have we stood still, staring at the sky, numbed by whatever might be going through our minds when we have deemed God faraway? How often have we felt stuck after trying and trying and failing over and over?
Waiting for the gift of the Holy Spirit was a command that would change the lives of those first disciples drastically. Without the Holy Spirit they would not be able to accomplish anything. But today we are enjoying the presence of the Holy Spirit whose extraordinary power changes things in our lives and brings glory to Christ by revealing the mind of Christ to us! (John 16.14). From his conception to his death, the life of Christ on earth was Spirit filled and by releasing the Holy Spirit, he compels us to share into His very nature.
During this period of confinement, our faith is being refuelled in various ways. We are all facing the challenge of waiting upon the Lord to know what to do next. What does He expect of us? Will we merely go back to our normal routines? May he render us sensitive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, enabling us to promptly obey His commands, when he compels us to do whatever He purposed for our lives!