“Why do you stand looking up toward heaven?” As the Book of Acts opens, the men in white ask the disciples a non-rhetorical question. They expect an answer. The disciples watched Jesus ascend into heaven. Jesus called these disciples into being, transformed them, molded them. BOOM! Jesus departed for the clouds and the disciples remain to carry on the Kin-dom of God. They stand mouths open, hearts pounding, minds racing. “Why do you stand looking up toward heaven?”
I have stood gawking heavenward. In times of great distress, I claim it as an act of deep exasperation. On one such occasion my grandmother had died—it was one of my first experiences with grief. I didn’t have words. I didn’t have a clear understanding of what happened. I sought the comfort of the cosmos. I can think of other heartsick moments when I have stared heavenward wondering ‘what now’?
I have also sat gawking heavenward in wonder and admiration. Campfires, especially camp campfires, are invitations to lift our eyes and hearts upward. I can’t tell you how many problems have been solved around the dying embers of a camp campfire.
I have stood gawking heavenward accepting my call to ministry. (I had successfully run from God for several years, but that’s a story for another day.) Having chosen not to run any longer, I stood and looked up into a rainy, January night. I felt a comforting presence. I felt a hand on my back, and I knew.
I imagine the disciples gawking heavenward as a mixed response of deep exasperation, genuine awe, and silent assent. I imagine they had many more emotions than just those three. The men in white call them back to themselves. They men in white suggest that they have purpose and meaning, and unless they wanted Jesus to come right back, they better get to work.
I have no problem staring into the heavens. These days offer us deep exasperation and genuine awe. We need to contemplate these emotions. They are complex. Gawking heavenward carries no great expense or effort. I highly recommend it.
I have no problem staring into the heavens—as long as that’s not all we do. These days challenge us to be better versions of our selves, to share our resources, to listen lovingly, to afford each other better than they deserve. We may silently assent to our work or we can complain bitterly about it. Either way, God calls us and compels us. So why do you stand there?
I love you.
I need you.
I hope for you.
Please be safe.