There are many illusions in life and work. The phrases we use reflect our persistence in one particular illusion, namely that we can control the uncontrollable. The phrase ‘time management’ implies somehow that actions we take can influence time. Time proceeds at a steady 60 seconds per minute, regardless of what we do and everyone gets the same amount of time each day.
The fact of the matter is that there are many activities, outcomes and processes which remain outside of our control. Much stress is generated by the belief that we can stay in control.
Such was the situation for a group of a 120 followers of Jesus of Nazareth as they experienced their ‘in between’ time of unique significance. For 40 days they had encountered ten appearances of their leader after he had been pronounced dead. This was a lot to take in. The final appearance was accompanied by a promise of power and a command to wait a few days for that power to arrive.
What they did not know was that a few days would mean ten days and an earth shattering event would end their ‘in between’ time.
No doubt they did many ordinary things during the ten days, such as eating, drinking, talking, debating and sleeping. Many of them were from out of town (the town being Jerusalem) so they were staying in accommodation around the temple area.
We are only told that they did two significant things: firstly, they met together (all of them – women mentioned specifically) in constant prayer; secondly, they appointed a replacement for Judas. So, for them, waiting meant praying and team building. The end of their ‘in between’ time leads you into the learning as you would expect, since it coincided with the arrival of the divine teacher.
The eventual explosion of power that was visited upon them was completely out of their control. Although they were faithful in prayer and team building, the arrival of the breakthrough came as the result of the fulfilment of the promise, not in response to their actions.
Waiting means waiting.
Secondly, the timing of the breakthrough was outside of their control. It coincided with the Jewish celebration of the receipt of the Ten Commandments fifty days after the exodus. In their case, it also coincided with the passing of fifty days after the first Easter Sunday. These were divine appointments.
Waiting means waiting.
Thirdly, the conditions under which the end point arrived were out of their control. The presence of God-fearing Jews from all over the world was because of the festival, not their planning. The ‘market conditions’ for the best results, were not of their making.
Waiting means waiting.
Fourthly, the response of the audience to the events was out of their control – when Peter explained what was going on, he could plead with them to respond but three thousand made their own choices that day.
What the 120 could do was pray and team build. As they prayed and built, they prepared (or were prepared) to be able to respond well to the uncontrollable events.
As is often the case, the end of an ‘in between’ time arrives with the birth. Pentecost is rightly called the birthday of the church. You and I are part of that new life. We don’t need to wait for the first arrival of power – that has already arrived.
But we are often faced with ‘in between’ times when breakthroughs are needed and tipping points are reached; when something new needs to be birthed, which will affect many countries. You are still called to wait – praying constantly, team building and trusting – you may need an inner Pentecost of power or you may need a Pentecost in your work or a part of your work – you can never force God’s hand but waiting is never in vain. ‘In between’ times are not for ever and endings are outside of your control.
Birthdays, however, are good times.
1In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4On 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. 5For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
6So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8But 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.” 9After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. 10They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11″Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
12Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. 13When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas,
Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. 15In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) 16and said, “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus- 17he was one of our number and shared in this ministry.” 18(With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20″For,” said Peter, “it is written in the book of Psalms, ” ‘May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it, and, ” ‘May another take his place of leadership.’ 21Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” 23So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.
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