I recently drove to a neighboring state to stay overnight with my three grandchildren, ages 2-8, while their parents pulled “football duty” at a high school. The previous week I promised them, with great dramatics,–no leftovers but PIZZA!
When I arrived my daughter handed me a menu with the phone number of a favorite pizza place that also delivered, a necessity! I tapped the number into my I Phone and ordered two thin crust pizzas. I verified that they delivered but was told they didn’t. That was odd. My daughter over-heard the conversation and thought that it was odd, too. Maybe, she reasoned their “delivery guy”called in sick. No matter, since she had a few extra minutes, she’d swing by, pick them up and bring them home for us. Great! Dinner problem solved! I’m a hero, the cool grandfather!
But not so fast! Upon arriving at the pizza place she discovered they never received my call! tThey courtesy called their other location. They didn’t have it, either. So, she ordered the two pizzas and called to tell me that they would be delivered it within the hour. Forty-five minutes later the doorbell rang, I tipped the driver handsomely, I poured milk and told the grandchildren to come eat.
As we were eating some of the world’s best pizza my cell phone rang. The area code indicated that it was from my home state, but it was a number I didn’t recognize. I let it go to voice-mail. They immediately called back. This time I answered. “Your pizzas are ready.” I quickly checked this number against the number I previously dialed. Ten numbers. Nine of them matched. The second number in the area code prefix, though, didn’t! There’s not much difference between a “1” and a “0” but even a small difference is a difference AND, in a ten number sequence, that little difference becomes huge.
What are the odds that two pizzas places in two different cities, in two different states would have the same number, sans the area code! I explained my error and offered to pay them the next day on my return trip home. They laughed, told me not to bother, and probably enjoyed the pizzas!
I thought about this little mix up as I reflected upon the disciples response to their “commissioning” in Acts 1. The resurrected Jesus told them to return to Jerusalem and to wait for the promised Holy Spirit. They got it half right. They returned to Jerusalem. They even returned to the upper room. But they just couldn’t wait.
Waiting has to be one of the hardest spiritual disciplines for Western disciples to develop. We have to be “doing” something, fiddling with something, listening to something. We can’t just “wait.” Neither could they. They decided to fill the vacancy left by the absence of Judas. The unfortunate this is that they filled it with a follower of Jesus named Matthias, who, coincidentally, was never heard from again.
If the disciples had only waited they would have realized that God already put the Divine Touch on a replacement for Judas. A man named Saul, the most unlikely of all people to be a disciple–a persecutor of the Church with a great Jewish pedigree. God knew that Saul was a little rough around the edges, but God also knew that Saul could be shaped into a Paul, the ideal candidate to take the Gospel of a Jewish Savior to a gentile world.
“For everything there is a season,” the wisdom of Ecclesiastes, reminds us. There is a season for action. There is also a season for waiting. May God grant us the wisdom to know the difference.