I spoke at church on Wednesday night on prayer and worship. We’re working out of The Purple Book, and this was chapter 8. I looked up the scriptures and filled in the blanks in the book. What hit me this time were the verses was out of Acts 1:
Here are the names of those who were present: Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James (son of Alphaeus), Simon (the zealot), and Judas (son of James). They all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus.
During this time, when about 120 believers were together in one place, Peter stood up and addressed them. “Brothers,” he said, “the Scriptures had to be fulfilled concerning Judas, who guided those who arrested Jesus. This was predicted long ago by the Holy Spirit, speaking through King David. Judas was one of us and shared in the ministry with us.” – Acts 1:12-17
Judas was an integral part of the group. You see here the remaining disciples and key players. The chapter goes on to say the believers, after Jesus’ ascension, numbering around 120. A handful of seeds for a church. But they hung together.
What to do next? They filled Judas’ spot with Matthias. Logical next step, right? They cast lots (v.23), the last time casting lots is mentioned in the Bible, by the way.
But after that?
They ate together. They prayed. They worshiped. They stayed the course. They encouraged each other. They waited. Not like waiting for the bus, checking your watch every 32 seconds. Not like we wait for a text, anxious and pacing, when we need an answer. I’m guessing it got hard. Probably the doubts started flooding in. Did they get ridiculed for continuing to believe in someone everyone had watched die in such a public fashion? Did their families shun them, calling them crazy zealots? Perhaps they even questioned each other. Is this the right thing? Should we return to the synagogue?
We don’t know, of course. We do know that if not for their persistence, the church would never have been born. All of the waiting and watching became part of the birth process. Any harassment fell into the realm of birth pains. This time of nothing doing was the time God was working. Makes me think of the winter season. Everything looks dead then, trees spiky and naked, dead brown grass. Here in Washington, gray surrounds us from late October to March. It can get depressing.
Maybe you’re in that dormant season. Everywhere you look, you only see death. Nothing’s moving and you feel cold inside like a damp tomb. Hold on. The new birth is coming. Let your faith arise as you wait. God has a plan, and it’s going to break forth like joyous spring.