This summer I’m working at Base Camp, a high adventure camp for kids. Sometimes we have groups of itty-bitties come in and we teach them the basics of camping. We show them how they can start a fire and lash together some tarp and branches to make a shelter. Another thing we teach them is what to do when they wander off from their group and get lost. The very first thing we tell them is just stay and wait; even though their first reaction might be to get scared and anxious and run around wild trying to find their group, the safest thing they can do is plop their butt on a stump and wait patiently for someone to come find them.
It’s funny, this is the exact thing Jesus told his friends to do after he came back from the dead. Their first reaction was probably to be afraid and anxious and run away from the wild Pharisees who would like nothing more than to kill each and every one of them. But Jesus didn’t want his friends to get even more lost in the deep woods of uncertainty, so he asked them to plop their butt on a bench and wait with him.
After some days of waiting a couple of the disciples asked Jesus if it was time yet for Him raise up an army and finally overtake the Romans. They had an idea of what they wanted and now that Jesus was back, maybe He would make that happen. Jesus didn’t rebuke them. Instead he gently slid their focus off of their own kingdom and onto the kingdom of God. God’s kingdom isn’t about military conquest or a biblical way of doing taxation. No, God’s kingdom is his own Spirit invading and conquering our hearts. It’s a tiny seed that grows larger and greater in us every day. It’s a treasure that we can’t help but give up everything to have. It belongs to the itty-bitties who know how to simply trust and enjoy their dad.
So as they waited with Jesus for forty days in the musty upper room, their hearts slowly let go of their own kingdoms. Their best friend, their teacher and Master was sitting right across from them. The man who accepted them, walked on seas with them, broke bread with them, and died for them was sitting right here with them again. Their shattered hearts were gently being mended and their confused souls were quietly being comforted. The fear and the worry and the dreams they had grew strangely dim as they silently stared in the face of Grace. (Acts 1)
Later on, one of those wild Pharisees who liked nothing more than killing people who loved Jesus would comment on this strange phenomenon:
Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him. (2 Corinthians 3:16-18 MSG)
Jesus told them to stay and wait so that they might be found and loved and freed. As the image of their own kingdom dissolved into the loving face of Jesus, his glorious light flooded their eyes, gushing through heart, soul, and mind. They suddenly realized that God-of-Galaxies is living and personal and sitting right there with them! And in a tiny, cooped up room the kingdom of God was unleashed.
What are some ways you can stay and wait with Jesus? What does the kingdom you’ve built in your mind look like and how can you let go of it? Where can you look today and see the face of Grace?