Our religion is one of waiting. It was like that from the very beginning. Abraham was asked to wait patiently for a son – even into his old age. The Israelites were forced to wait for rescue from the Egyptians. The nation waited again for 40 years in the wilderness. And then began the long wait for the Messiah.
And then the Messiah came! And the kingdom of heaven, we know, was “at hand” (Mark 1:15). And then the ascension happened. Jesus had told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem. A glorious gift was coming to them in the form of the Holy Spirit. And yet still, the angels stood there in white robes and told the disciples that the story was not yet finished. Jesus would come back.
Again, God’s people would have to wait.
The disciples, of course, wanted to know when Jesus would restore the kingdom of God. We know enough about the disciples after reading Mark’s Gospel together as a church. This was not a group of men that was adept at waiting.
I’m afraid we are right there with them. Waiting is not our strong suit.
One of the things that happens with people who are called to wait is they sometimes forget about the thing for which they are waiting. If we are not careful, the waiting can lull us into sleep. Remember, Jesus told the disciples to stay awake:
“It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake – for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning – lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake” (Mark 13:34-37).
The disciples were waiting for the restoration of the kingdom of God. But they would have to wait for it.
And yet, they weren’t told only to wait. They also were told to witness. This was their task as they waited. They were to be witnesses to Jesus both near and far – to the end of the earth. The disciples early on seemed to take this job very seriously. They were so serious about it that they went looking for a twelfth “witness.” Matthias was selected for the job.
Again, we aren’t a people who are good at waiting. In our waiting, we tend to fill our time with silliness. Our waiting is often filled with smartphone-gazing. We scroll the internet and check our email and text our friends. I suppose that’s OK when we’re sitting in the doctor’s waiting room or in a line to get into the grocery store.
But our calling to wait for the return of the Messiah is also a calling to witness to his resurrection. That is, we don’t wait silently. Our days of waiting are not idle days. They are days of doing, of sharing, of speaking, of convincing.
A question for your day: What does being a “witness” look like in your day today?