Jump Start # 2601
Acts 1:10 “And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them.”
Our verse is about the ascension of Jesus to Heaven. The apostles were watching. Jesus was fading away out of their sight. John would later see Jesus in a vision, but most would never see Him again. What a whirlwind three years it had been for those disciples. Three years is not very long. High school is longer than that. We can look back and remember events three years ago. All the miracles. Calming the sea. Walking on water. Raising the dead. Casting out demons. The incredible lessons. The traps set by the Pharisees. Judas turning. The arrest. The crucifixion. The uncertainty about His body. The resurrection. And, now, He leaves.
There were moments when these disciples were very afraid. There were times when they just didn’t understand. There were words that stung them and rebuked them. Three years of incredible memories. They came to understand that He was God on earth. And, as He ascends, I wonder if they waved good-bye. I wonder if tears came down their cheeks. Things were going to be different in many ways. Very soon, they would start preaching. Then they would be scattered to different places. Some may not see each other ever again.
And, I wonder if late at night they ever wished that they could go to sleep and wake up and everything would be the way it used to be. They’d wake up and Jesus would be with them. They’d wake up and feel secure and hopeful. But this wasn’t a dream. Things were not going to return to the way they once were. Things would never be the same again.
Those thoughts came to me recently when I was telling a friend about the difficulty of preaching and teaching with no audience. Looking into the lens of a camera is not the same as looking into someone’s eyes. I said, “I’d like to wake up and everything be back to the way it once was.” But this is not a dream. And, in some areas, what some face will never be the same again.
I think about the widow who misses her beloved husband. There was a sickness. Doctor visits. Pills. Hospitals. And, he never got better. He passed. A funeral. The cemetery. And, now everything is different. Even sitting in a chair watching TV is different. It’s hard to eat alone. The house seems so quiet and so empty now. How she wishes she could wake up and everything be the way it used to be. But this isn’t a dream.
I think about some family members, or friends, even in the church. Something was said. Feelings were hurt. Things were said back. Now a riff has torn them apart. It’s hard to be in each other’s presence now. It is tense, awkward and very uncomfortable. Things have been patched up about as good as possible, but it’s not the same. How they wish they could wake up and things be the way it used to be. But this isn’t a dream.
I think about a congregation that had some internal problems. Mistrust. Accusations. Finger pointing. Poor leadership. Some had enough. They, with a few others, leave and start another congregation in the area. Both churches are struggling. The split, division has been costly. The people do not associate with each other. They avoid each other when in public. They both feel it was the other side’s fault. And, what has happened has crippled the work in that community. How they wish they could wake up and everything be the way it used to be. But this isn’t a dream.
I think about a couple whose marriage grew old and stale. Work, kids, parents and a number of other factors have turned them more into room mates who share the same house than husband and wife. He becomes attracted to someone else. A sexual affair takes place. He decides that he no longer loves his wife and wants out of the marriage. There is a divorce. Things are split up and divided. The kids are shuffled about visiting one and then the other. The house is sold. And, the wife wishes she could wake up and everything be the way it used to be. But this isn’t a dream.
Many have found themselves in the very things I have just described. Life isn’t the way it once was. Things are so different, and sometimes not in a good way. Here are a few things to remember:
First, life is always changing. Sometimes it’s for the better and many times it’s not. Sin, choices, and life itself creates changes that one must adjust to. God puts around us His word which will build our faith, His people which can encourage us, and His promises which we build hope upon. Prodigals do not always come home. People do not always apologize or forgive. And, death can take the most precious people from our sight. It helps being flexible. It helps to talk to godly ones who have gone through similar things before. It helps to have a close relationship with the Lord.
Second, life isn’t always fair. We want justice, happiness and Heaven right here and right now. For some, crime pays. For some, they get away with murder. For some, the innocent have suffered and been taken advantage of. We can cry about this. We can complain about this. We can get angry about this. Or, we can keep these things from ruining our hearts and our influence. We can’t stop what happens on the outside, but we can certainly keep the outside from coming inside. We can choose to be joyful, a blessing counter, and Heaven bound, or we can be a victim. It can be storming outside, but you can close the door and keep the storm from coming in. The same is true with our hearts.
Third, for those apostles, Jesus left them with things to do. He was out of their sight now. He would not be with them as they journeyed. They could go home and go to bed, or they could go into all the world as He wanted them to. You and I have a mission from God. When things change, that mission doesn’t. We can’t use the times that we are in as a reason not to worship, be righteous or be God’s hands and feet. God doesn’t give us a pass because things are difficult or things are different. We still have families to raise. We still have brethren to encourage. We still have a world that needs to know Jesus. Busy ourselves in the ways that we can to fulfill God’s plans for us.
Fourth, never lose sight of Heaven. In Heaven, there won’t be the changes that we find down here. In Heaven, we won’t be wishing that things could be the way they once were. The apostles knew that they would see the Lord again. It wouldn’t be here on earth, but it would be up in His home. Their faith, their hope is what carried them on.
Don’t stop because things have changed. Don’t spend your days wishing things could be as they once were. With what you have, do what God wants you to do.