Hearing God’s Voice: Reflecting on Deuteronomy 18:15-20 and Mark 1:21-28

A few weeks ago, I was reading Deuteronomy 18:15-20 and Mark 1:21-28 in an effort to keep up with the lectionary readings (I have since fallen behind; life gets in the way sometimes.).  They’ve both been twirling through my brain ever since.  Connecting both passages is the theme of being able to recognize God’s voice in other people.

Deuteronomy 18:15-20 promises that a prophet will arise from the midst of the Jewish people. They are to be looking for God’s voice from someone within in their community; and Deuteronomy also points out how to know if person’s voice doesn’t represent God — their promises and predictions don’t come to pass.  The prophet is God’s mouthpiece, rather than a maker of future predictions. Deuteronomy 18 and Mark 1 fit together nicely in this sense.  Deuteronomy tells what to look for in a prophet, and Mark 1 gives an example (really the ultimate example) of this coming to pass.

Jesus shows up out of thin air in the midst of the Jews.  He just appears, is baptized, tempted, called the 1st disciples, and started his ministry.  All this in chapter 1 of Mark.

Taking his newbie followers with him, Jesus heads toward a place called Capernaum.  On the Sabbath, Jesus started teaching in the synagogue.  As he taught, the crowd was flabbergasted. Mark doesn’t tell us details about what Jesus taught, but rather how Jesus taught — like someone with authority.  Given the point that Mark makes about the anointing of Jesus by the Spirit earlier, Mark’s point here makes sense.

But Jesus doesn’t just teach in the synagogue.  A man showed up who was possessed by an evil spirit. That evil spirit confirms Jesus’ authority, and names Jesus as the Holy One of God.  Jesus rebukes the demon, saying “Be quiet! (1:25).” Then, Jesus cast the demon out of the man.  With vivid details, Mark notes the spirit “shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.”

And the crowd is beyond stunned.  Something happened in front of them.  Jesus’ authority is confirmed by his deeds — just like what Deuteronomy 18 declares as the hallmark of a true prophet.  Jesus’ authority is confirmed by his character and action.  Mark is making a point with his narrative that Jesus is able to be trusted as God’s spokesperson.

Reading Deuteronomy, I found myself struck by the old adage, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”  Do we always want what we can’t have?  I look at the Israelites and am just like, “Are you nuts? You have tangible ways of encountering God– the pillar of fire or hearing God’s voice directly, and are just like, ‘Umm… can we have a human mediator instead?’ What’s with that?”

I usually seek to encounter God directly and to avoid hearing God’s voice through people.  I’m suspicious of that. Exception being through reading books, but I’m not sure that reading counts the same as engaging with a breathing person next to me.  I want control over my God encounters, I think.  Hearing God privately seems, to me at least, less spooky than God meeting me through others.  Probably weird.  I’m quirky.

And at the same time, I recognize that I need growth here. I need to be open to hearing God speak in various formats — not just the one I falsely think I can control.  This part requires a stance of humility and vulnerability in order to take seriously that someone else might be hearing God’s voice better than I am at the moment.

I look back through my journals and am amazed by way my faith journey looked in junior high, high school and college; at the way I talked about God and the ways that God met me.  But my faith journey was largely a private enterprise.

Lately God has been introducing me to the concept that I might actually encounter His presence through other people.  For some of you, that’s a “Well, duh!” moment.  But, for me, this is newish.  It started with the ectopic pregnancy.

After the ectopic pregnancy, I found God’s presence with me through others.  I found God’s comfort through the friend who checked in with me every day for over a month after my surgery. Through friends who brought us meals while I recovered — even though I was a hot mess who wept all over them when they walked in the door.  Through the mentor who unexpectedly sat and cried with me when he heard my story.  Through countless others that spoke to me about their experiences of infertility.

Using all these people, God showed me that my journey with loss and childlessness is not shameful.  I am not less because my body has not carried a pregnancy to term. God does not love me less than those who can have biological children.  I needed the presence of others with me in community to experience all this. 

While I found myself wanting God to meet me directly on this topic, God didn’t.  Instead, God brought people to me and spoke to me through them.

God can meet us in all kinds of ways and places (see Balaam’s donkey in Numbers 22 for one such wacky encounter).  But, in terms of listening to the voices of other humans, I want to also offer some cautions.  Is the person speaking of sound character?  Basically, does their life match their talk?  Does what they say come to pass? Are they wise?  And is their message consistent with God’s character and heart?  If the answer to any of those question is no, be wary about following that path.

I’m not saying everyone I meet is a profound divine encounter, nor am I saying all the words people speak to me are from God.  Or that God only speaks to me through people. Heck, no! Nor is every thought that pops into my head from the Spirit; sometimes my selfish or crazy sounds like a good idea even though it is SO not.  Wisdom and discernment are needed in both areas.

I’m learning how to hear God in more than one way.  To trust that community is a place where God speaks to me just as much as the Spirit within me.  And I think this is making me a healthier person as I learn to lean into that.  Carefully.  With discernment.


Light Has Come?: Reflecting on Isaiah 60:1-6

Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see.
    For the glory of the Lord rises to shine on you. 
 Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth,
    but the glory of the Lord rises and appears over you.
All nations will come to your light;
    mighty kings will come to see your radiance. (Isaiah 60:1-3 NLT)

J and I decided that we would give each other the gift of light this Christmas.  Meaning, we’d buy new light fixtures for our kitchen and sun room since the existing fixtures were varying shades of busted.  As we searched and searched, explored light shop after light shop, I found myself also pondering Isaiah 60 and its joyful and hopeful proclamation that “light has come.”

I thought, “Here’s an easy and simple metaphor.”  Talk about how dark and dingy the kitchen was before the new fixture. Have some before and after pics.  Voila!  Quick and fast illustration.  Tie that in with Jesus and instant blog post.

But, life is not so simple.

Rarely do updates go smoothly on this nearly 80 year old house.  The light fixture adventure is no exception.  Four days after attempted installation we have less light than we started with, had to install a new electrical casing in the kitchen ceiling, and have two holes in the ceiling in need of plastering.

Plastering the ceiling is no easy task either — as we’ve discovered with multiple rounds of plaster splatting off the ceiling onto the floor and multiple trips to the hardware store for additional supplies.

Where I was hoping for joy and basking in the glow of new light, we instead have frustration, moderate under our breath cursing and darkness.  We have guests coming in a few days and will live with embarrassment of holes in the ceiling (and darkness) when they arrive.  Life is not held together perfectly and in control — much to my dismay.

I think faith feels like this sometimes too.

This year’s lectionary cycle (a prescribed set of Scripture readings for the year that many churches around the globe read aloud in worship) places the Isaiah 60 reading soon after we’ve celebrated the birth of Jesus and welcomed in the New Year. Here is an excellent opportunity to bask in what God has done, and to think about being intentional about our focus for the coming year.  Celebrate the good news that has come upon us, and be a people whose light draws others toward the good news of Jesus.  All happy and good things.

I like happy and good things.  I tend to want to focus here. But this week, with the lighting issues, life is not so simple, nor so easy.  Sometimes stuff gets in the way.

I think relating to God is that way too.  My relationship with God is not always sunshine and roses.  I mess up.  Things are harder than I thought.  I get in my own way.  My life at times feels like my kitchen lights project.  More difficult than expected with unanticipated failures and unwanted surprises.

I found myself looking backwards in Isaiah 59 for a little context.  And Isaiah 59 starts in the dark place.  Our brokenness, our addictions get in the way of us and God.  I’m increasingly drawn to the idea of using the word addictions instead of sin.  Sin feels like a churchy, theology word.  It feels, to me at least,  abstract and conceptual.  Addiction seems more visceral.

Basically, sin is anything that we desire more than God, and as a result, our world gets turned upside down. Kind of like eating.  Eating is a good thing, necessary for survival.  But a broken relationship with food — eating too much to satisfy emotional needs or starving myself to be thin (or satisfy emotional needs) — wreaks havoc on my body and my relationships with others.

For Isaiah, what got in Israel’s way of experiencing God’s light was their lack of justice.  A person can’t just worship God with her lips, and live a life that ignores or harms others (Isaiah 58).  To do this leaves her waiting for light, but trapped in darkness (59:9).

Our relationship with God ought to have immediate and direct connections to the way we engage with other humans and the world.  To be a follower of God is to also love those whom God loves.  Micah 6:8 sums this up nicely.  What God desires from humans is at root a simple (but, not necessarily easy) thing: do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God.

And lest you think I’m thinking that we save ourselves and earn salvation – Isaiah then tells about God’s activity.  God looks out upon the mess (Isaiah 59:15).  And seeing no one else to fix it — God will act to bring a redeemer (Isaiah 59:20).  And to those who will acknowledge their brokenness, God has made a covenant and the Spirit of God is upon them (Isaiah 59:20-21).  God heals and restores.

But, the healing and restoration only makes sense if we’re ready to acknowledge the mess in which we sit.  In order for us to realize that we need light, we have to recognize the darkness in which we are held captive.

I’m helped in this area by Henri Nouwen.  I tend to be a striver.  Work harder.  Be perfect by my own efforts.  And that’s a recipe for shame and failure.  Instead Nouwen writes, “Simply start by admitting you cannot cure yourself… Your willingness to experience your powerlessness already includes the beginning of surrender to God’s action in you (The Inner Voice of Love, 30).”

So, here’s the challenge.

As we think back on the last year and the darkness where we feel trapped, talk to God.  Recognize those areas where we feel powerless to change and ashamed for others to see.  Own it.  Confess it.  Pray about it. 

Perhaps share it with someone we trust.  There is something profoundly healing about confessing our brokenness to another person (provided that person is a healthy individual) and still being welcomed by them in relationship.

And as we think about the coming year and our hopes for God’s activity in our lives, do the same.  Own it.  Pray about it. Talk to someone. Trust that we have a Savior that loves us and is working toward our healing.  We are not abandoned.  Strive a little less out of our own perfectionistic efforts. 

Nouwen talks about how a seed can only grow if it stays in the ground where it was planted.  To keep digging up the seed to check its progress is to kill the plant.  Be like the planted seed, and stay in relationship with God trusting that “everything you need to grow” will be provided to you.  And rest knowing that “growth takes place even when you do not feel it (The Inner Voice of Love, 31).”

Progress may feel slow.  Much like my kitchen light project.  A little bit here.  A little bit there.  But progress does happen.  The holes in my ceiling are shrinking.  God will work in your life. Like my  light fixtures, this healing may not happen on your timeline or according to your grand vision.   But, God is still working in your story.  Continue to invite God’s light to drive out your darkness.

God will.  And as God does that, God shines in you.  That light is beautiful and magnetic.  Others will see it, and be drawn to it.  Be not afraid.  Presume that others welcome you, and extend welcome to others.  The good news of God is for you.  But, it is not only for you.

It is also for your neighbor who leaves passive aggressive notes on your doorstep.  For the coworker who drives you insane.  For the man on the street corner with the cardboard sign whom you pass on the way to the office.  For the woman who treated you rudely at the grocery store.  For the man who cut you off and gave you the “finger” during rush hour.  For the gossip who said hurtful things about you.

The good news of God is for the world.  For our neighbor.  For our friends.  For our family. But also,  for those we consider our enemy.  For those whom we hold at arm’s length.  For those who seem different from us.

And God invites us to be beacons of His light upon the world.  But, we can only do that as we are drawn toward God and allowing His light to chase out our darkness.  Not easy.  Not simple.  But, beautiful.  And worth it.

Let’s pray for that this year.  That we become vessels that brilliantly shine in a dark, dark world.  May God clean us so that our spots and smudges don’t hinder His brilliance from illuminating those around us.  Let us trust in the God who works in us and rest in the love that has been freely given to us.  May we love others as freely and generously as we have been loved by God.  Amen.

Child of God – Romans 8:14-16

A few weeks ago I was standing in church before participating in communion.  There was a pause in the service, and due to life circumstances over the past couple of years, I found myself asking that deep place within – do I really belong to Christ?  Am I really in this whole faith business for real? Have my mistakes over the past years meant Jesus was finally done with me?

And I was amazed at the emphatic response that I received and how quickly it came.  The resounding voice declared “You are MINE!”  Three short words.   But powerful ones and the ones I needed to hear.

I keep savoring this memory from a few weeks ago.  It grounds me and keeps me focused.  I find myself looking at life with a newfound hope and optimism.  And I have a renewed sense of confidence when I read the following verse in Romans this morning.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption.  When we cry, “Abba! Father! it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God.  Romans 8:14-16, NRSV

When I’ve read this verse in the past, I’ve read it while secretly wondering – am I really a child of God? Do I really have God’s spirit living in me?  Am I in this for real – or am I going to be face to face with this God I believed in my whole life and he’s going to kick me out to hell as though he doesn’t know me?  I always felt uncertain about where I stood in God’s eye.  And now with that “You are mine!” declaration from a few weeks ago, I have a new sense of confidence about my standing with this God.  I know now that I’m daughter of this mighty King…

But, this daughter has been freaking out in the past few days.  With the calling to go back to seminary, I felt it was time to leave my steady full-time job to pursue school.  And, with that life change, J and I are forced to really budget and make some hard choices.  To be frank, having the extra income from my job made life really comfortable for J and I.  We could do just about anything that we wanted and that cushion was awesome!

And now I fear what the loss of that income means.  And I’m even more afraid that I’ll just hop into another job just to have a  job rather than looking for volunteer opportunities or a job that moves me into a direction that I want to go.  I’ve spent a good chunk of time this week being anxious over finances and  this whole volunteering/job thing.

I keep praying about it, but keeping finding myself coming back to fear.  I have to keep reminding myself that God doesn’t give rocks when you’re praying for bread. And I have to keep reminding myself that God takes care of his children (though not always in the way that they have in mind).

Joel 2:23-32: An Abundance of Grace

Well, it’s now October and it’s been a long time since I’ve posted here. Between having a miscarriage and the journey of medical craziness with my dad’s tongue cancer since May, I feel as though I’ve walked through the fire and back. God’s been nudging me to pick up my Bible all this week, and this week I’ve been afraid of it. I’ve tiptoed around it and been fearful of what it’s going to tell me. Whenever I get this metaphysical feeling of dread about this wondrous book, I know God’s got something he wants to say…usually not something I want to hear.

It’s been awhile since I’ve followed the lectionary cycle, so I decided to pick back up again with it. Though I researched what the lectionary texts were at about 8:00 AM this morning, it took me until noon to actually work up the nerve to open the good book. It just sat there in front of me on the ottoman, while I then blogged about other things, including pictures and a restaurant review…And then, after writing for a few hours, well then I had to move furniture in the living room and then accidentally shorted out the circuit that powers the motem, computer and TV. And then finally a great voice within me said quietly…”Enough already. Either choose to hang out with me. Or don’t.” So, I stopped. Took a breath. Shakily grabbed my Bible, and opened to Joel 2:23-32. And the words followed from the page into my heart as though they’d been written just for me. Emotions overwhelming washed over.

“O children o Zion, be glad and rejoice in the Lord you God; for he has given the early rain for your vindication, he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the later rain as before. The threshing floors shall be full of grain, the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. I will repay you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer and the cutter, my great army, which I sent against you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame. You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I the Lord, am your God and there is no other. And my people shall never again be put to shame.”

I am so profoundly grateful that my father has escaped his cancer battle alive thus far. Alive and able to speak and eat and thrive. I value the new relationship with him that walking through the fire together has forged. And in the dark time of staying up through the night with him, God has forged something else in me. A renewed sense of his presence and his promise.

And I’m currently walking through another dark time that I don’t know how God will work out, but I do have a sense that he is with me. This issue went on the back burner while the immediate issue of my dad’s well being took center stage. My dad is back on his own two feet now. And then, last week a well meaning friend brought up the issue of my miscarriage last May, and that set off a downward spiral into an issue I thought was water under the bridge. My husband and I are verging on four years of trying to get pregnant. Four years and 2 miscarriages. In a culture where one of the first questions we ask strangers is “so, do you have any kids?” I’m finding myself frequently full of shame as I try to answer this question. If you say simply no, then people press, “well, don’t you want kids?” Which then leads to more shame as I explain that our lack of children is not a lack of wanting – but an inability to get pregnant/stay pregnant. Which makes me feel less womanly, less whole, and more as though there is something wrong with me and maybe even with this God that I profess to believe in. And then if you’re more honest and throw out the whole truth or portions of the truth, then people feel the need to say “oh, you’re so young” or “you’ve got to quit trying so hard”. Which again causes shame and pain and awkwardness.

In my weakness, I want to read this passage as though God’s going to give me children to take away my sense of shame. I want to put my earthly definition of wholeness and satisfaction on the promise. God’s not allowing me that option this morning. The promise is that I will be made whole, made healthy – but in his version of healthy. Redeemed in relationship with Him. Discovering the abundance of grace that he has already poured out on me – most recently, the gift of my father. The gift of my father’s health. The gift of a new, deeper relationship with my dad. The gift of a husband who shows up and helps out without complaining through all this journey…staying up nights with me in the hospital, learning how to do things when I wasn’t ready (taking out the inner part of my dad’s trach and cleaning it). The gift of a God who promises all this misery is temporary. A day is coming when all this shame I carry will be gone. A day when He comes back, and we and all creation get to be made whole. When our world’s brokenness is mended, when games powerful men play will end, and wars will cease. And I’m still sitting here waiting. Hoping.

But, God’s here with me today. And I still believe He’s coming back, and that the embarrassment of today will fade in His presence.

A Holy Rest: Exodus 20:8-11

“Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; you shall not do any work– you, your son or your daughter, your males or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.” Exodus 20:8-11

I live in a culture where resting is equated with laziness. In our high paced culture, we fill our days with activity after activity, and task after task. Much of which are good things, even necessary things. I work. I go to the gym two to four times a week. Lately I have numerous doctor’s appointments. We have social commitments. Somewhere amidst all this, we pay our bills, we (try to) clean our house, do our dishes, go to the grocery store, fix dinner, breakfast, lunch. The weekend starts to seem like the opportune time to catch up on all the tasks I couldn’t complete during the week. Missing in all the busyness is an entire Sabbath day. Church on Sunday morning sure. But a twenty-four hour window of rest every week–who has time for that? I don’t. At least, I don’t feel like I do.

I’m really working out what it means to honor the Sabbath and keep it holy. By Sabbath I think the passage means taking a day of rest, rather than just going to church on Sunday morning. (Though going to church is a good thing.) The passage talks about resting, because God rested after creation. To keep something holy is to set it apart. To hold it as sacred, separate from other things. Keeping something holy means creating boundaries, making choices.

And I have other thoughts about this passage, but I’m losing track of what I’m thinking as it is late. My spring fever energy rush has finally plummetted.

Crazy Faith: Genesis 22:1-14

One thing I’ve noticed about reading the lectionary texts as my devotional reading is the way I’m forced to take a deeper look at many passages that I’ve just glossed over in the past. One such passage is Genesis 22:1-14, where Abraham is told by God to sacrfice his son Isaac. I’ve known about the passage and accepted it in a sort of flippant way–never thinking very long on it or about how weird it is. Not this time!

To begin, let me just retell the story in my own words. God tells Abraham to take his son Isaac to the region of Moriah to a special place that God will reveal. Once there, he’s to sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering. The next morning, Abraham saddles his donkey, and rides out with his son and 2 servants. He cuts sufficient wood for the offering, he and his entourage head towards Morah. Once he sees a particular mountain, he tells the servants to stay with the donkey. He and Isaac are going to the mountain alone to “worship”. At this point, Isaac starts to seem a little curious. He notices that Abraham has brought fire and wood, but there’s no animal to sacrifce for the offering. Abraham says “God will provide the lamb for the burnt offering.” Once they arrived at the place God told Abraham about, Abraham builds an altar and puts the wood on it. Then, he starts to bind his son, and he actually places his son on the altar, on top of the wood. And reaches out to kill his son with the knife.

Just before he succeeds, an angel calls out to him, and commands him not to harm the boy. The angel says “Now I know that you fear God because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” The Abraham sees a ram nearby, and he sacrifices the ram instead of his son.

This passage creates an image of God that makes me nervous. I’m not sure about how to deal with a God who asks a father to sacrifice his son. Although God did sacrifice his only son Jesus for me, and I’m not complaining about that idea or finding it repugnant. Perhaps because I have reasons for why Jesus died. With this story of Abraham and Isaac, we’re not initially given a reason why. We’re just given a command at the beginning of the story.

A command that Abraham just obeys. I’ve found myself asking “who is this Abraham?” Earlier in Genesis, God has promised that Abraham would be made into a great nation and through Abraham all nations would be blessed. And God said that his promise would be delivered through Isaac’s line, not through Abraham’s other son Ishmael. Previously in Genesis, when Abraham encounters realities that conflict with the promise that God has given, he asks questions. He always believes God and trusts God’s response, but he does initially ask God some gritty questions. Not this time. He just gets up and sets out to obey this command. Now that God had finally given the promised son Isaac, does Abraham just have more confidence in God’s ability to deliver? Or is Abraham just in denial about what’s been asked of him?

Which leads to my next question: was Abraham’s response to Isaac’s query a lie or was it a statement of profound faith? Isaac notices that they didn’t bring an animal with them to sacrifice, and he’s wondering what’s going on. And Abraham just tells him that God’s going to provide the lamb.

Which again leads to another question for me: does Abraham think that he will actually have to sacrifice Isaac? Or did God ever intend for Isaac to actually be sacrificed? Was this whole exercise merely a test that Abraham was aware of? Abraham does take the command seriously. He doesn’t delay in obeying; he sets off to obey the very next morning. And he seems to have the intent to follow through–to the point of tying his son up and placing him upon the altar…and holding up the knife to kill him. There’s no indication of hesitation for Abraham.

But again, the promise that God gave Abraham was supposed to be continued with Isaac. Is Abraham just thinking that since God finally gave him a son in his old age, that God will find a way to continue the promise…even though the command that God gaves makes the fulfillment of the promise look like it’s not going to happen.

As for whether or not God really intends for Isaac to be sacrificed, there’s 2 potential options for Abraham. He can obey God’s command or disobey. If he disobeys, Isaac lives. And if Abraham were to obey God to the point of raising his knife against his son, God could intervene and call off the command (And God did). Did Abraham think this would happen? And maybe God never really intended for Isaac to actually be sacrificed? I don’t know. But I’m thinking God at least planned to save Isaac in some fashion. If God hadn’t saved Isaac, God would have been painted a liar. And God does not lie or break promises.

God’s promise to Abraham earlier in Genesis is not a conditional one. God makes an unconditional promise to Abraham that is binding on God’s self, not on Abraham’s part. Abraham cannot do something to break the promise; the promise is about who God is. Abraham does not stand to gain something from obeying God’s command to sacrifice Isaac.

I’m still wondering if this passage shows us an adult Abraham mature in faith? An Abraham who has learned to trust God and his promises–even when reality conflicts with that promise. I think this passage is ultimately about faith. Faith, that even in contradictory circumstances, that God does honor and keep his promises. As much as I’ve heard preaching and stories on the importance of putting God first and not withholding anything from him, and as much as I think those concepts are true, I’m not convinced that this story is about that. I think this story is about Abraham having grown in his faith in the God who keeps his promises, even when life seems to be at odds with God’s promise.

Has Anything Really Changed?

Earlier this week I blogged about asking God the wrong questions, and linked that with the Acts 1 passage. And I think I was wrong. Maybe not entirely wrong, but not particularly accurate either.

The disciples were asking a valid question. They’d been hanging out with the risen Messiah for 40 days. Their understanding of the Messiah’s role was centered on the restoration of the kingdom of Israel. Jesus has risen from the dead and he’s been teaching them all about the kingdom of God for the past 40 days.

If I were one of the disciples in Acts 1, I’d at least be thinking the question, “is the kingdom going to be restored now?”. Although I’m a pansy about asking questions, so I probably woudn’t be nervy enough to ask.

And the question is also probably a layered one. The disciples have been cloistered away in Jerusalem, waiting for Jesus’s gift to appear. They survived a frightening time when Jesus was crucified; they’re probably wondering if they’re going to end up dead at this point as well. How long can things stay as they are? If the world has been radically changed by the resurrection of Jesus, why does everything still seem to look and function the same way?

I’ve realized that while I thought Jesus was dodging the question– in reality, he’s not. He’s responding directly, but he’s dealing with more than just the question that was asked. He’s getting to the cause of curiousity–not just the question of time.

The time question isn’t the big deal. The big concern is the disciples roles– to receive the Spirit and to be witnesses. The kingdom is being built and they are part of it. Life is different, even if it doesn’t appear that way at first.