Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. (Acts 1:4)
Long, long ago in a land far, far away, I was once a child. And in that childhood, which is getting harder and harder to remember as each day goes by, we used to play a game called "Red Light, Green Light." I'm sure there were a million-and-one variations of this particular game, but the one I remember the most had to do with one person being "it" (any good game had to have someone who was "it") and everyone else, who, on command, were trying to make their way to the place where whoever was it stood. The catch was that you could only move toward your goal when the person in command uttered the words "green light." And whenever the words "red light" were spoken you had to stop in your tracks. As I describe it now, I'm not really sure what made that game so much fun, but as I spent time in the scriptures today I became aware of how great it would be to have someone uttering those words in the chaos and frenzy of everyday life.
The spiritual life is filled with tensions. And one of those tensions is that the scriptures clearly tell us that we must wait (Psalm 130:5-6) and we must go (Matthew 28:19). Our job is to try to and figure out when to do each. We even see it after the resurrection. Jesus tells his friends to go and make disciples and he also tells them to stay in the city until they had been clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49). Since Matthew and Luke don't give us any indication as to which of these was spoken first, we can only assume that the waiting preceded the going. Which, in general, is probably a good principal to live by.
But in the course of our everyday lives things are a little messier. When the dust is flying, how is this call to wait and to go supposed to flesh itself out? I don't know about you ,but I know that I tend to go at the expense of waiting far too often. Which may mean that I am actually going in my own strength, or before I have been clothed with power from on high. I know, know, we all have the Spirit 24/7 now and are thus always technically clothed with power from on high. But you know what I mean. Many times I charge ahead and go without taking time to wait on God to empower and direct me the way he longs for me to be empowered and directed. Which means that I am probably much less effective, and my activity is much less fruitful, than I would have, or could have, been if I had stopped and waited from him to fill and to lead and to guide me.
So maybe this whole tension is not that complicated after all. Maybe all I really need to do is listen. Maybe when I pay attention to God, and to the voice of his Spirit within me, I will actually hear him telling me when to do each, rather than constantly trying to figure it out on my own--or worse yet, constantly going without ever stopping to wait for him and listen for his guidance and direction in the first place. Maybe it is time to blow the cobwebs off of that old game I played so many years ago.