“Hold,” my wife said as I got ready to try to kick a demon out in a deliverance session. She sensed the Holy Spirit had more he needed to deal with before we removed it. “I feel like there’s something connected to their left hand.”
She had no idea how accurate she was. No one did—including the person we were praying for. Over the course of the coming weeks, a repressed memory connected to their hand would slowly return to them. And after everything had finally been dealt with, the Holy Spirit told the person that it was time to call me back and finally deal with a demon behind it—and in Jesus’s timing, we did so quickly and without struggle.
I hate waiting. Everything inside me wanted to kick this thing out long beforehand, but the Spirit of Jesus had different instructions: “Hold.” God, in his infinite wisdom, knew better than me. He knew that there was stuff that needed to be dealt with and that everything needed to be handled with a specific timing for the sake of the person’s wellbeing. And there were other times, too, where I would try to deal with things quickly and the Holy Spirit would say, “You have to deal with this thing over here first.” At the time I didn’t fully understand. In hindsight, I see it quite clearly.
As Jesus was about to ascend into Heaven he gave his disciples the following instructions: “In a few days you’re going to be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Do not leave Jerusalem until that happens.” But the disciples had no patience. They had been waiting for a messianic King to establish the forever-kingdom-of-God. And now that they now had the immortal-death-conquering-resurrected Jesus standing right in front of them, it seemed time to get down to it.
“Is this the time you restore Israel?” the disciples asked, hoping for the immediate consummation of the new creation. “That’s not for you to know,” Jesus answered. A cloud then took him up to Heaven as the disciples watched… And then, perhaps, kept watching… And then maybe still a little longer… Suddenly two angels appeared and said, “Why do you stand looking into Heaven?”
Kind of an odd question. After all, you don’t watch people ascend into Heaven every day and even the angels knew that. But this gentle rebuke of sorts likely reminded the disciples that they had their orders: Go back to Jerusalem and wait for the Spirit. Standing there watching wasn’t going to change anything. Maybe they were even hoping that Jesus was going up to Heaven real quick to get an army of angels and come right back down.
However long they thought it’d be, the New Testament authors had no idea Jesus meant it’d be at least a few more thousand years. And as these disciples continued to ask God “how much longer,” God would give them responses related to his patience.
Hold. He knows things you don’t know.
*This devotional was created out of the themes of Acts 1:1-14 found in today’s reading at CommonPrayer.net.