Acts 1:15-17, 21-26
1 John 5:9-13
John 17:6-19, 20
Peace be with you!
On days where the world seems to be crashing in on you, it seems like life is going forward for everyone except you. Everyone is getting jobs after graduation or going on for more schooling, but you … you have sent out resumes and received no call back. You have applied for graduate programs and not been accepted. . Every day, you send out more cover letters and more resumes. Still no call back. You have done everything (except perhaps for begging for a job!). Still no call back.
Transitions are the hardest with all their changes: old routines fade as new routines beg to be picked up. Friends move on to better jobs and opportunities; you will move too. What is familiar to you now will soon fade into memories.
The transition from graduate school to the “real world” was tough on me. Unlike most of my fellow classmates, I had no real next step planned. I had met my last long-term goal and really had not thought about what would come next. The next year I struggled trying to discern my calling. I moved two or three times that year, between Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Florida. The following summer I thought I had found a great volunteer opportunity, but between the challenges of mixing professional and personal relationships and the non-profit not being open to different faith traditions, it ended up not working out. “Now what?” I asked myself. That fall was when I felt a calling from God to start this series of devotions on my website.
Imagine how the eleven disciples felt after Jesus ascended into heaven. Now what? Jesus told them to stay in Jerusalem to be baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4). Wait? Why? And what is this “being baptized with the Holy Spirit” about? As human beings, we like having all of the answers set out in front of us. I wanted God to directly and plainly tell me what he wanted me to do, even though I was fully aware that it doesn’t usually happen that way. However, God was telling me to wait for his plan to unfold.
As the eleven disciples wait, Peter realizes they need to replace Judas with a new twelfth disciple. Jesus had named twelve disciples in order to represent the twelve tribes of Israel. Peter is thinking about organizing Jesus’ followers and keeping with the traditions which Jesus started. The eleven disciples have been charged with going forward with Jesus’ teachings and good news; they need some organization and a new compatriot.
Two possible candidates to replace Judas are named: Barsabbas and Matthias. The eleven disciples pray for guidance as they choose the new twelfth disciple by casting lots. Matthias wins the “toss of the dice” to be the new twelfth disciple. Unfortunately, the disciples missed a step: to get it seconded from Holy Spirit. It was not that Matthias did not make a good disciple, but he was not called by the Holy Spirit. The eleven disciples jumped to fill their own need to have a twelfth disciple, rather than waiting for God to direct them.
It is easy to understand why the disciples felt the need to act. Waiting induces anxiety, impertinence, confusion, and the list goes on. No one likes to wait; people want to act now to make things happen. The disciples are gathered in a room in Jerusalem, waiting to be baptized with the Holy Spirit. They do not even understand what that means. Some things have not changed. Many of us in seminary were questioning where God was leading us. Even if you never go to seminary, I imagine you question where God is calling you – whether it is as a teacher, doctor, nurse, business person, social worker, parent, lover, or any combination. It is never easy discerning where God is leading you.
What you can be sure of is that Jesus gives us the good news to share with all those we meet. Just before Jesus was betrayed by Judas, he was praying to God the Father for his twelve disciples and his future disciples. Jesus understands the world rejects God, because it did not know him and because Satan lives and reigns in the world. Jesus also understands how much God is in love with the world and would do anything for us – even send his only son to die for our sins.
Therefore, Jesus prays for God to protect his current and future disciples, so they may continue to spread the good news in the world. Jesus brands his disciples with his name and leads them by the truth of the good news.
As I dwell on my own call, I sit in awe that Jesus would pray for me, a disciple in the distant future. It seems like such an insignificant concern for someone about to be led to his death within hours, but Jesus finds it so significant that he takes a moment to pray for me and for you. The well-being of his disciples is more important to him than his own life. Do you grasp the significance of that? It is John 3:16-17 all over again: “God so loved the world that he sent to his only son…”. God lives in the present and knows and understands exactly what is going in our lives, and at the same time he looks to the future for the well-being of all.
Although it is difficult sometimes for us to know what God is calling us to do, he finds ways to guide us through the Holy Spirit and by speaking to us through answered prayers. All we need to do is wait and listen. The Holy Spirit is our guide.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for looking into the future to our callings. Help us to understand how Jesus could pray for us two thousand just before he was lead to his death. We stand in awe that someone would make such a sacrifice for us. Remind us as we struggle to seek our callings to spread the good news. Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide us. Amen.
Thanks to the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the comment covenant.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
1. How do you discern God’s calling for you?
2. How does it make you feel to know that Jesus prayed for you two thousand years ago?