Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Looking Up

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Act 1:6-11

The disciples were not cut out for the jobs they were called to. Many days I feel like I am not cut out for my calling. The traumatic ups and downs of following Jesus must have challenged their faith and their spirits. And yet, they couldn't help themselves. They had witnessed and known love that is greater and more complete than anything experienced. They had seen lives transformed, including theirs. I too have known love and forgiveness bigger than the world knows, and been transformed by God's grace in my life. Sometimes when we face challenges that seem to overwhelm us and we hang our heads, and other times we miss what is gone and we look back hoping lost love will return. But God invites us to look up, to look forward, taking the promises and transformations of the past with us into a brighter future.

The disciples must have felt bereft that day, the day of ascension. They had just a few days with the risen Jesus and he was gone again. They might have stomped off and gone back to their familiar, comfortable lives. But God in Jesus Christ had changed them. They couldn't go back. They went forward into strange and unfamiliar territory. They spoke with love and invitation to strangers and enemies. God's love within them powered them on despite themselves. Despite themselves they came back down from the mountain and put one foot in front of the other, following Christ with their hearts. And the spirit made a way for them, and makes a way for us today. No one living in these times can say that we have it easy, finances, floods and terrorism are a few of the many challenges. But we are not alone. God is with us and we have a way forward, one step at a time.

Today, I want to take one step at a time, looking not up or down, but to the road ahead with an open heart. God is with us and we are people who are lead by the spirit, and cared for by our Creator despite challenging circumstances. May we all have open hearts to the transformation in the heart of Christ.

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