Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised...Acts 1:4a.
If I had to guess I would say that most of us who are steeped in good ol' western culture have a desire to see things happen immediately to some degree. I mean look at the commercials for wireless services, it is always about having the fastest data plan so that you can have what you want, when you want it. How many of us would come apart at the seams if we were forced to deal with dial-up internet? I'll be honest, I'm as guilty as the next person when it comes to instant gratification. Patience is simply not one of those qualities that I want to practice very often.
We run the very serious risk of apply this same "Iwantitnowitis" to revival and spiritual awakening. I know that for the past few weeks I've been absolutely pumped about the launch of OneCry and the response that it has had throughout the nation. As of now there are over 2000 believers that have joined this movement to collectively seek God's face and petition Him to send revival to our land. This is amazing! Yet, after a few weeks of praying and preparing we still have not seen a massive, nationwide movement of the Holy Spirit. There may be some who have not seen the results either in their own lives, or the lives of those around them that they expected. "Maybe this praying for revival isn't all its cracked up to be," some may say.
Now, I've written on waiting on the Lord before but I want to take a few moments to share some new insight and ask some new questions on this topic.
Last week during our Monday morning men's Bible study there was a gentlemen who worked for a large, well-known, international ministry. Part of his job was to travel around the world and collect stories about how the Lord is working in foreign countries. One of the themes that seemed to emerge from his stories was that the Church in many countries is experiencing what amounts to the book of Acts. Miracles, healings, casting out of demons, and the like are happening among these believers. This man was telling of one particular region where the unbelievers in the community would call on the Christians to come and pray for loved ones who were suffering from various illnesses. Understand this, these were not two-bit, televangelists who were making a spectacle of God, they were just normal, everyday Christians. This man continued to share that these believers would go to the home of the sick person and would fast and pray until, in his words, "the Lord showed up." He said the longest he had heard of this going on was nine days! Can I just say that we get bent out of shape when the service on Sunday morning goes longer than an hour. NINE DAYS!
Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, "Which," He said, "you heard from Me." Acts 1:4
Wait for the Lord, Be strong and let you heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14.
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away. When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying...These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer...Acts 1:12-13a, 14a.
Questions asked, Conclusions drawn.
There were two things in the story above that struck me like a sniper's bullet between the eyes. First, was the simple idea that these believers went into a situation ready to wait until the Lord showed up. This is exactly what we see Jesus telling the disciples to do in Acts 1. "Hey guys, just go back to Jerusalem and wait until the Holy Spirit comes." In a beautiful act of faith and obedience they did just that, and a few days later...Pentecost! The second thing is the amount of time these brothers and sisters were willing to pour into this effort. How much time we devote to something is often a very good indication as to how highly we value it. In spiritual matters, it also acts as a thermometer of our faith. Do we actually believer that God will show up? Or do we begin to doubt after a few hours,days, months or years?
What I see happening is churches today is that we have a set time frame within which we will allow the Lord to make and appearance. "He can show up on Sunday morning at 11:00am or not, either way we're going home at noon." This is not the model that is given to us by the apostles. What if we came into church on Sunday morning, having prepared our hearts in advance, and refused to leave until the Spirit fell on the congregation or He told us it was okay to go home? How many people do you know of that would be willing to fast and pray for nine days, asking for God to move?
Friends, I believe that we must practice waiting until the Lord shows up. This is an expression of our faith in Him and His promises. It also forces us to re-prioritize with God's will and timing at the top of the list. I believe that if the Spirit visited one of our churches on Sunday morning it wouldn't be hard to get people to stay for the duration. On the other hand, I wonder if the Spirit doesn't show up because we don't wait for Him to move. We simply rush out thinking "Oh well, I this wasn't the Sunday for it." Will we wait until He comes? Will we wait, patiently and expectantly for God to send revival?