Still looking up?
Today I'm in the process of healing. I would dearly love to rush the process and get to the next stage, but that is not happening. Instead, I'm discovering that God has important lessons for me to learn through the healing process.
Lessons. I don't know about you, but the word "lessons" doesn't really bring great images to mind. I think of study and more study and drudgery, all the while hoping that the lessons will sink into my mind once and for all. Of course, they rarely do. Most of us feel fortunate to remember at least a portion of our lessons.
So maybe lessons isn't really a great term for what I'm in the midst of. Perhaps it's better to say that I'm learning something about God that I didn't know before, that there is an aspect of Creator Redeemer being revealed to me in a way I would never know without this process.
Okay, that's a bit better, but I'm still not liking the process. The process stops me in my tracks. It truly stopped me dead in the water when pain was in every heartbeat and nausea in every breath. The only word that came to mind was, "Help." And that was a weak plea for some kind of relief.
I knew God could touch me and heal me. Jesus did that often when he walked as a man on this earth. He does it often now, both in my own life and in the lives of others. But this time, he didn't reach out and take away the pain, though I begged him over and over and over.
It would be easy to think he didn't care. He, who said, "Who of you when your child begs for bread will give him a stone?"
I felt like I was getting just that...pun intended...for I had an enormous kidney stone and an infection so bad that it nearly burst my kidney. Of course, I didn't know the cause of the pain at the time, because I was in too much pain to make the hour trip to the doctor.
Satan was trying to take me out. I knew that for sure. But I also knew that he couldn't do any more to me than my Creator Redeemer would allow. So, though Satan meant it for my harm, God meant it for my good. Finding the good, then, seemed the important thing to do. But I couldn't even think about finding the good when all I could do was cry out in agony. I couldn't even recall a single scripture I had memorized. This lasted for ten days before I finally knew I had to get to a doctor.
So, what was the purpose in all that? Why was God so silent?
I'm not the first to ask that question. I'm sure you have asked it yourself about something going on in your own life. Why is God silent?
Is God really silent?
I suspect not. But our ability to hear him is often blocked.
Why do I say that? Because God does speak...all the time...in dreams, in visions, in His Word, through His creation.
This morning I began reading in the book of Acts. In chapter one, Luke is talking about how excited they all were to walk and talk and eat with Jesus for 40 days AFTER He died on the cross and rose again. During those days he talked with his disciples about the kingdom of God.
Wow! They were jazzed. Jesus was who they thought all along. The Messiah! The Warrior King! The One who would at last usher in a kingdom of peace! Their tomorrows were all sunny. They were with their Lord and King. They were on the winning side.
Then Jesus said something odd. He told them to wait.
Wait? Really? But I thought all the waiting was over. They had been waiting hundreds of years as a nation. And now these men and women had been waiting for several years. Jesus had just conquered death. What is this about waiting?
Then Jesus tells them they are waiting for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Oh, okay. That doesn't sound so bad. They could wait for that. But then, they ask him THE question.
"Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"
Okay...it comes out as a question. But was it really? Kind of. Kind of not. Like many of our questions, I bet the disciples were so sure the answer was yes, that they didn't really expect any other answer.
Jesus does not say, "yes," and he does not say, "no."
But still...he did not say no. So, you know as well as I do that at least some of those guys, maybe all, were absolutely convinced Jesus was going to restore the kingdom to Israel. Yay Jesus!
Now, before we go much further, it's important to note that Jesus DID say something. He told them that it wasn't really any of their business to know the time of restoration. But that kind of gets lost as he goes on to tell them that they're going to receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them.
Hey! Power! Now, that's something worth waiting for. And it's not too far a stretch to think that some of the disciples, maybe all, were standing there thinking that the power would enable them to restore the kingdom. Because, you see, that was what was on their minds. The kingdom and its restoration. That was their whole goal in life.
But then Jesus gives them the real goal. The power was going to enable them to be his witnesses. And he even tells them where: in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. They are to make disciples of all nations.
Now, they were so intent on Jesus restoring the kingdom that they may have missed this great commission except that something very strange happened. Jesus was taken up in the sky before their very eyes!
"They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going..."
Can't you just see this? You're watching him go, up and up and up until you can barely see him and then a cloud hides him from sight and you're still looking, thinking he'll come back at any moment and wondering if you can believe what your eyes saw. And then two men dressed in white say, "Why do you stand here looking into the sky?"
Why are we standing here looking into the sky?
Isn't that exactly what we're doing when we say God is silent?