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Lord, if you ever feel like sharing… well you know… I’m listening…

May 31, 2014

“It is not for you to know the times or the periods that the Father has set” (Acts 1.7). But Lord I want to know! Please let me into the secret, I promise not to tell, honest, ‘Please – Pretty please – Pretty please with a cherry on top’ – ‘cross my heart – hope to die’…

That is how I feel about that statement. Jesus has returned to the Father and I have that privilege of being a witness to all that Jesus has done to all people, starting here with my own people in this place where God has put me (see Acts 1.8). I am promised the Spirit (Acts 1.5), and I have received the Spirit, he guides and supports me. But that great question still remains, “When Lord? When will you come back?”

I am told that Jesus will return in a way at least as obvious as the one that took him to heaven. But it is now 2,000 years of waiting. Those first disciples were expecting Jesus to return at any moment. Indeed, there is a real sense of expectancy running right through Acts, the New Testament letters and Revelation. The story is almost breathless with anticipation of Jesus coming at any moment.

In Acts I hear of the first followers of Jesus selling everything, and giving it away. It was clear that they felt no need to prepare for the future, Jesus was coming very soon.

In Peter’s second letter he even writes about people who were starting to laugh at the Christians saying, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?” (2 Peter 3.4). Peter responds by encouraging people that Jesus is being patient with the failings of this world but that he will still come soon, and when least expected, like a thief.

Even so, I’m sure Peter must have have remembered those words of Jesus before he ascended, “It is not for you to know the times or the periods that the Father has set” (Acts 1.7). Now Peter was famous for his bluntness so I can imagine him responding “But Lord I need to know! You say that you love me, you know that I do and that I obey your commandments, so tell me when you’re coming back! At the very least let me know roughly how long to wait!”

I can imagine Peter getting heated with Jesus. But the strange thing is, Peter has his answer in his own letter, where he writes, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (2 Peter 3.8). How true Peter was. Two thousand years later or is it two days, we are still waiting.

I see pain and suffering and I want to know when it will end. I sit with grieving families and I want to know when he will wipe away their tears, when mourning and crying will be no more. I remember that reading that I so often use at funerals: “I heard a loud voice shout from the throne: God’s home is now with his people. He will live with them, and they will be his own. Yes, God will make his home among his people. He will wipe all tears from their eyes, and there will be no more death, suffering, crying, or pain. These things of the past are gone forever” (Revelation 21.3-4).

So you see Lord, I have a professional interest, it’s not just being nosy. So perhaps just a hint or two? If not for me, then for the grieving families that I visit?..

Then I watch the news and I see wars and famines and disasters, and again, I want to know.

So when I think of Jesus ascending into heaven, and when I think of Jesus return I’m sure I’m not alone in my shouting up to God, “How long?” I’m told to wait expectantly, to be ready at all times, but it would be nice to know how long. How long will people suffer and die? How long will pain and suffering be just a fact of life?

I really want to know but just like Peter and Paul, and the other apostles; just like Christians throughout 2,000 years of history; I am told the same, “It is not for you to know the times or the periods that the Father has set” (Acts 1.7). No matter how much I plead, the answer is still the same, “No”.

I know now that no matter how much I’m loved by Jesus, the first that I will ever know of Jesus’ return will be the event itself. So, perhaps it is for the best. There is no point in fretting over God’s business when I have enough to do here. I’m told to get my life ready, so I’m not embarrassed or ashamed when he comes, and believe me I’ve got plenty to do there. I should get on with getting myself in order and stop worrying about things that don’t concern me.

When the disciples were looking up to heaven, trying to take in what it really meant for Jesus to be taken from them, they were told by two angels, “‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven’” (Acts 1.11). Like them I’m told to spread the Good News to all people, wherever I go, starting right here where I live. I try, but again I have a long way to go. There are still so many people who don’t know Jesus. So many people who don’t realise the wonder of knowing that they are loved by their creator, and that he wants to work in and through them.

So, perhaps I should grow up. Perhaps I should stop being like a toddler hoping that I’ll get what I want from God if I say, ‘Please – Pretty please – Pretty please with a cherry on top’.

Lord, help me to stop worrying about how you will do your job. Lord, help me to get on with the job that you’ve given me… But Lord, if you ever feel like sharing, … well you know… I’m listening…

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