A couple of weeks ago, my wife, Eva, and I thought our house was going to burn down.
I had just returned from a trip, and Eva was cooking something delicious in the oven. She walked out of the kitchen and when she came back, flames were shooting out of the oven — and they were spreading.
Frantic, I looked under the sink for our fire extinguisher which, to our great dismay, was empty. Forgetting all of my knowledge of how to safely extinguish a kitchen fire, I did the worst thing possible: I threw a pan of water on the flames.
The fire was growing. My next thoughts were of getting Eva out of the house and whether or not we had time to grab important items or papers. I dialed 911 as the smoke alarm beeped overhead.
And then, suddenly, the fire completely extinguished itself, leaving no damage, like it was never there.
The night before the fire, I received a text message from one of my friends whom I hadn’t talked with in a while: “Pastor Sam, for whatever reason, I am praying for a supernatural hedge of protection.” The next morning, I received another text message from another friend: “Pastor Sam, I’m praying for protection right now. God’s going before you. Everything’s going to be fine.”
That afternoon, our oven caught on fire.
Reflecting on this supernatural provision of God led me to think about Pentecost when Jesus’ disciples received the Holy Spirit:
“Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:1-4).
As we celebrate the birth of the church this Sunday, I think there is a major lesson for believers or, as I like to say, “Pentecost people”: Pentecost people know how to wait — and worship.
Before he ascended to heaven, Jesus told his disciples:
“Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. …But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:4-5, 8).
So, they waited. And then, suddenly, the Holy Spirit rushed upon them. They began speaking in different languages, preaching the gospel to those from other nations who were gathered in Jerusalem. At least 3,000 people were welcomed into the family of God that day.
I’ll admit it: I have a hard time waiting.
Waiting by faith is especially agonizing since we can’t see how God is working or know what his answers to our prayers might be. I experienced this in a very real way last summer when my daughter was critically ill with COVID-19 and for a time, we didn’t know if she would survive.
Over the years, I’ve learned that “wait” and “suddenly” are part of the same faith continuum. Throughout Scripture, we see men and women of faith who waited: Abraham. Job. Esther. Daniel. Zechariah and Elizabeth. Mary. Samuel. Anna. The disciples and so many others. Their wait was rewarded when it was least expected.
Moreover, all these worshipped while they waited. They prayed, fasted, wept, and declared the promises of God. Their waiting literally changed the world, because people who wait are the people who experience a holy “suddenly.”
When it comes to waiting, will we choose to listen to our feelings or to live by our faith?
The God who instructs us to wait is the same God who will send us our “suddenly.” With our ancestors in the faith, we stand upon his promises, believing that we will receive a “suddenly” for our families, our circumstances, and our communities for the glory of God.
So as we wait, let’s remember to worship, for our waiting is not in vain. I hear the sound of a rushing mighty wind that’s about to change everything.