I heard a John Piper sermon quite a few years ago (or maybe it was an article I read) where he talked about wanting the gospel to go down so deep into his heart that his impulses were gospel. It wasn’t those exact words, but that is what I took from them. Ever since that moment I’ve been reading the Scriptures (and really my own heart) in a different way.
It’s been said that integrity is what you do when nobody is looking. I think you could say something similar about impulses. Those moments when I’m least on guard expose what is really going on in my heart. The unfiltered words which come to my mind are what is really there. And I want those to be sanctified. Again, I want Christ to so change my heart that my first impulse is to be like Jesus. I want to be like John Newton. It was said of Newton that he loved people at first sight. That was his impulse.
What I often do when I read through Acts is look for impulses. I want to know what it was that naturally sprang out of these Spirit-filled followers of Jesus. Here in Acts 1, before Pentecost, Jesus calls on his followers to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father. What will be their first impulses to being told to wait? What will they gravitate toward in those moments that they are waiting for this promise of the Father?
First, they gathered. A first instinct of believers is to want to be around other believers. They didn’t think about going their own separate ways and live their own individual lives. Their waiting meant gathering with like-minded followers of Jesus…and to do so in the very room where Jesus had promised the Spirit.
Secondly, they were united in prayer. Prayer is the natural impulse of a child of God. Though we might go through seasons of distress and difficulty in this area, communing with the Father is our new normal.
Thirdly, they applied the Scriptures. Peter stood up and exposited the Scriptures (there is likely a bit of an impulse in this as well—where leaders, lead). I am amazed at the way Peter applied Psalm 69 and Psalm 109. Christ became the prototypical righteous sufferer and Judas became the prototypical persecutor of God’s people. So they applied the Scriptures through a Christ-centered lens and acting accordingly.
There are two points I am making here. One is to look at the inclination of the early disciples when they are told to wait. Are my impulses similar? When I’m told by the Lord to “wait” is my first response to gather, pray and apply the Scriptures? Or do I have different impulses?
The second point that I’m making is that when the Lord places us in a season of waiting that doesn’t mean it is a season of passivity. Waiting on the Lord means doubling down on gathering with believers, prayer and obeying the Scriptures. Being told by the Lord to “wait” doesn’t mean to be frozen. It means to faithfully dig in to the things that you do know. Be obedient in the disciplines and diligently dig into the Scriptures and apply them. That’s what you do while you wait.