As I watch the hockey playoffs I want to know my team is in front early and taking a commanding lead, then I can relax and enjoy the game. Otherwise my anxieties rise with each moment the game is undecided, or my frustration rises with each goal we fall behind.
I now just approach cash registers with a sense of resignation that the line will die as soon as I get in it. I’ve even tried faking one register by pretending to get in one line and then switching to another but it always finds me out.
Red lights kill me. The sooner I need to be someplace the longer it takes them to change. I’ve actually contemplated getting out and pressing the pedestrian crossing button in attempt to speed it up. And if you need the washroom – forget about it – the light will break and never change.
When I’m standing in line for my lunch and the line doesn’t move in 45 seconds I start asking myself if I’m really hungry and if it lasts 90 seconds I decide I’m not. I don’t know what it is but waiting is hard. I want what I want when I want it not later.
When I read about the disciples being told to wait in Jerusalem after Jesus ascension I think that must have been hard. It would have been for me. There’s a part of me that says to the disciples “Welcome to my world!” Jesus is in heaven, I’m on earth, welcome to my world! If I’m one of the disciples waiting - the phenomena of Pentecost hasn’t fallen YET, the people around me are as human as I am, the world I live in is as broken and as tangled a human web as ever it was, pressures on the outside, fears on the inside, and if I want I can do religion without God while pretending He is present. As a matter of fact, since I’ve been with Jesus I can pretend I know more than I do and no one is the wiser. It is all a possibility for me.
If I’m one of the disciples I know Jesus is interceding for me in heaven, I know theologically He won’t leave me but I’m used to having Him visibly before me and visibly I just watched Him leave. I’m not feeling good about that. I know He has work for me to do but without Him it feels like ten Mt. Everests piled on top of each other waiting for me to get started and I’m not feeling good about that. And instead of getting at the pile He has said “Wait” which doesn’t make me feel good either.
There is something about that ten day window between the ascension and Pentecost that captures my attention and breeds uneasiness within me. I feel like I’m living in something like that window now as a matter of fact. I can’t pretend to know what the disciples felt in that Holy in between, without Jesus and without the Holy Spirit; waiting on the promise but it had to have been difficult. I know Pentecost came, that it was the high water mark for ministry and that we have been riding various waves of that same tide ever since. I know that the waiting the disciples did in the Upper room was active – they were discerning what their mission would look like going forward, who would be their partners etc. in the atmosphere of constant prayer. That’s active waiting. I know that we who believe, now have the Holy Spirit within us BUT …. let’s be honest – the closest thing to an Acts 2 type Pentecost with speaking in tongues happening among my people was when they broke from Gaelic into English
Yet, in that ten day window of waiting between Ascension and Pentecost today I wonder if there isn’t a season of mourning losses that’s appropriate? Losses like the loss of a dynamism of faith among individuals and the nation; like the loss of expectation of holy encounter in worship rather than the form of either Christian consumerism or entertainment that seems so prevalent in churches today; the loss of service in favor of self-service, the loss of prayer, the loss of power in the preaching of God’s Word, the loss of transformation in individual lives and communities; and all of the losses not as a matter of complaint but, in that ten day window of waiting, of lament before the Lord for the sin that caused it, sin both personal and communal. I wonder of if that window of waiting doesn’t awaken a hunger for the deeper life in Jesus Christ, and that if the waiting is truly for the gift of the Father, in that context of lament, then doesn’t that make the wait that much harder – waiting for something better while you’re feeling the losses? For me it does – it feels like a forever wait and I’m pretty sure I don’t do well at waiting.
As we approach that 10 day window of waiting between the Ascension of Jesus and the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost I find myself being pulled into a season of real hunger – waiting actively upon the Lord, lamenting the spiritual losses, and pleading for the fulfillment of the promise, and anxious. I can’t explain it but I feel it in my bones – every moment of those 10 days is a painful reminder of what I/we need and don’t have - a fresh outpouring of God’s Spirit. I want it! Every one of those ten days gnaws at my soul anticipating the Gift of the Father until it is given. Yes, I know Pentecost came but everything in me says we need it again and all I can say is “Come Holy Spirit! Yes, Come!”