Acts 3:1-5 (NIV)
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
“The Spirit of Jesus in me greets the Spirit of Jesus in you and brings us together in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, amen.”
Yesterday we set up Acts 3:1-3 as the “every day” scene on the day before the Day of Pentecost and every day before that. The big point, however, is Acts 3 actually takes place on the day after the Day of Pentecost. Acts 3 is the test of whether Acts 2 will be a moment or a movement. The assignment was to create two columns; the first of which was “the problems,” and the second, “The Problem.” We will dig in on that Monday. I want to share a Holy Spirit story with you today; at least one perhaps in the making.
Just this week I found myself at a high school football practice. It was a multiple school 7 man team scrimmage format so there were a lot of parents present. It was 95 degrees in the shade and I was standing in the only sliver of it in the whole complex just to the side of the field. I was talking with a mom church friend, just jawing along about Jesus and stuff, when I heard a loud thud. Looking over, I saw a woman laying on the ground about ten yards to my right. I ran over to intervene. As I helped her to her feet, I quickly noticed several things. She was overheated, disoriented, confused, and embarrassed. I could tell she felt exposed and carried shame. I also noticed she was young, disheveled, and unkempt. Her teeth were rotting in disrepair (pointing to meth addiction) and her eyes yellowing and hollow (signaling alcoholism). Then the smell of alcohol hit me like a wave. She had not collapsed from heat exhaustion but from inebriation.
By now the mom with whom I was talking had joined the intervention. She began asking all the essential mom questions, like “Are you drinking enough water? Would you like us to call someone? Are you taking any medication that you need? Do you need us to take you somewhere? Are you suffering from any health conditions? How did you get here? Where is your car?” Thank God for moms!
I asked for her name. We will call her Linda. Linda didn’t know where she parked. Mom friend found out the make, model, and color and went off to find it. Meanwhile, I was practically holding her up while helping her walk across the parking lot. Mom friend located the car and rejoined us on our slow walk to get there. Mom friend suggested we pray. Linda welcomed this and we prayed as we walked and she was reasonably dialed into the prayer, as though she “got it.” We got to her car, ensured she wasn’t going to drive away, made sure the air conditioner was working and walked back to the football practice. We kept an eye on her for the rest of the afternoon as she slept it off in her car.
So why am I telling you this story, and what on earth qualifies it as a Holy Spirit story? Good questions. I see it as another example, and I have plenty of them in my life, of applying a bandaid to a situation which called for a tourniquet. The Spirit was willing, but the witness (i.e. me) was weak. I have thought about Linda a lot since then. I ask myself questions like, “Why on earth did I take a drunk woman to her car? Why didn’t I do this or say that or consider the other?” And I have thought about her son. “Why didn’t I try to find him?” He was likely not surprised to find her passed out in her car as these kinds of problems don’t often first present at football practice. There are many problems to identify here and then there is The Problem, and of course “The Problem” is a wicked problem.
We can identify and diagnose little “p” problems all day long. And sure we could identify wicked problems like mental illness and drug addiction and broken homes along with several others. Want to know the wicked problem I see? Linda needed Peter and John on the day after the Day of Pentecost, and they were nowhere to be found. Linda needed and needs the Church Jesus is building on the day after the Day of Pentecost and it is not apparent where to find it. There must have been at least a hundred Christians at the football field that day. This means there were one hundred people filled with the Holy Spirit, walking in the power of the Spirit, carrying the miracle working powerful love of God to deliver, heal, redeem, and restore the lost, broken, and hurting all around us. And then there was Linda.
This is not an indictment on the Church, just an observation. I’m not angry at the Church. I’m disappointed in myself—fifty five years of training and the best I can do is help a drunk mom to her car. I suppose we did something though. Seeds were planted. The power, after all, is not in our sowing but in the awakening seeds. Perhaps it is a Holy Spirit story still in the making.
Still Day One.
God our Father, who with your son Jesus Messiah, fills us with the Holy Spirit, thank you for the miracle and the mystery of the day of Pentecost. And thank you for today, and that it is only the day after. I confess I’m tired of ranting at the church. I’m ready to look in the mirror. Holy Spirit, start with me. Or maybe start over with me. And would you bless Linda today, somehow translating my feeble effort into the seed of awakening in her life. Praying in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Got any Linda stories from your life?
P.S. Saturdays are for Awakening Stories
We are introducing a new feature on the Wake Up Call (I mean the Daily Text) here today. I would like to share a story, either my own or one of yours, each Saturday that gets at Awakening. It could be a sowing story, a growing story, a story of deliverance or healing or transformation or glory. Would you consider sharing your story here either via video or text. Katharine from the FarmTeam will tell you how here.
For the Awakening,