I’ve dropped the ball on the whole “Counting the Omer” thing. If your May looks anything like mine, maybe you have too. It’s okay. Whether we’ve been actively counting the days or not, we’ve made it forty days from Easter, forty days from the Feast of Firstfruits when the sun rose on an empty tomb, and Life Himself walked victorious from the grave.
We may not be counting. But two thousand years ago, our Savior was.
Forty days after He rose from the dead, the resurrected Savior ascended to the Father with a promise to return:
“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.” (Acts 1:11)
But He didn’t only promise to return. He promised to send His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, upon His departure:
“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.” (Acts 1:9)
So after they had watched their Friend and Lord ascend to heaven, they waited in Jerusalem for the power He had promised.
I’ve said it before, but I think it so often: that I can’t think of anything better than to have walked with the Man of Christ. I can’t imagine anything would make me braver than to know He’s standing right behind me. I can’t imagine being more confident than to place my feet in His footsteps and find shade in His very real shadow. (I know, I know. He is. But not in the form of a physical person and that’s what I’m talking about, that’s what I sometimes long for.)
What could be better than to have Jesus wrap an arm around my shoulders and guide me in the way that I should go? What could be more comforting than His hands wiping the tears from my face? What could be more fun than inside-jokes with Jesus?
But it was Christ Himself who said: “It is to your advantage that I go away” (John 16:7). Because when He left, He tells His disciples (and us), He would send His Spirit. We can’t see Him but He dwells with us and in us (John 14:17).
And I don’t always know what to do with that.
The Holy Spirit is as real as Jesus. But the intangible can start to seem theoretical, and I don’t know how to wrap my arms around a Spirit the way I could a Man.
That’s what I’m thinking about today as I imagine those early followers of Christ watching the Man ascend to the Father. I wonder if their hearts were torn between faith and fear the way mine sometimes is. They would miss the Man they’d walked with. Would they know the One He’d send? Oh, but if the promises of their Friend about the Spirit were true, then their lives would never be the same.
Their normal had been rocked by the arrival of the Christ on the scene. Their hope had been restored when He walked out of the grave. Their faith had been strengthened by their time with the Resurrected Savior. But He had told them that the best was yet to be.
The Spirit was coming. And the Spirit would transform them in a way even the Savior never could.
The Savior dwelt among them—the glory of God in their midst (John 1:14).
The Spirit would dwell within them—the power of God giving life to their bones (Romans 8:11).
I have known the power of that Spirit. I have known His Presence and His comfort and His healing and His truth. But I want to know Him more!
And so today, as we remember the feet of the Christ ascending to heaven and anticipate those very same feet returning in glory, let’s keep our faces to the sky and ask the Man of Christ to pour out His Spirit fresh on us. Let’s wait, like those early followers did, until we are clothed by power from on high.
And when we are, let’s go in that power and be His witnesses to the very ends of the earth.
Waiting. And wondering. And worshipping.
And begging the One we cannot see to make Himself so very known.