Luke opens the book of Acts with a noteworthy scene. The disciples have been rejoicing with Jesus the past forty days since The Resurrection. They’ve been eating together and celebrating Jesus’ return to life. They listened, maybe even more sharply, as He shared more about the kingdom of God. We feel their joy watching this scene unfold. They are encouraged. They have hope.
Then in Acts 1:7-9, “He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority. 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.’ After He said this, He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid Him from their sight.” Here is The Great Commission. His last final instruction. His last command that we as followers must impress upon on our hearts. Then He leaves them? He goes up to a cloud? Wait. What just happened?
While The Great Commission and power from the Holy Spirit are important to this scene, this next part is where I want to focus. Notice how the disciples respond in verse 10: “They were looking intently up into the sky as He was going…” Intently looking up. The disciple’s heads are tipped, mouths open, staring up into the sky with somewhat of a dumbfounded expression. Thoughts are running through their minds: Where did He go? Why did He leave? I wonder if Peter saw this? Will He come back? I still want to talk to Him about my idea. Wait… what were His last words? Was that important? Should I write that down? What did He mean? Witness? Samaria? He couldn’t have been serious, right? Go to Samaria? No way.
Then the rest of verse 10 reads “…when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them.” Suddenly. In other words, two heavenly hosts show up and snap them back to reality. Whoa, who are you? Where did you come from? How did you get here? More confusion adds to the scene. They need answers. Then the angels speak in verse 11: “‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.’” OK. That’s a relief. We have hope again. He’s coming back. We will get to discuss my idea. Wait… when is He coming back? Will I be in Samaria? What did He mean by the same way? On a cloud? What if it’s a clear day?
Analysis paralysis. That’s a phrase I picked up from a friend and have used over the years to describe my disease of spending so much mental effort to analyze and understand something that I diminish desire of wanting to act. I believe the disciples suffered from this disease. I believe this scene portrays the symptoms of analysis paralysis: looking up, dumbfounded expression, having lots of questions, expecting more answers, needing more time.
Last summer my family and I went on a missions trip to Brussels, Belgium. I highly recommend this trip, but I’ll save the details and reasons for another time. God used this opportunity to open our hearts to missional kingdom service. After coming home, however, I spent the next five months with analysis paralysis. Where would we go? What would that look like? How could we use our gifts? What about our son’s education? What about painting the house? Would there be BBQ to eat? Analysis paralysis squashes faith. That’s what was happening. The more we talked about the desire God gave us and the more time that passed, we became less open to actually taking action.
Then in November of last year, God revealed a few things to heal my disease. First, I always thought fear was the absence of faith. But the Holy Spirit taught me that fear is faith, but it can be faith placed in the wrong things. Romans 8:15 says “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of Sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’” So He taught me I was putting my faith in the “what if’s.” I was putting my faith in the worse-case scenario. I was giving my faith to this disease and this disease was slowly determining the outcome. I was not putting the faith He gave me back in Him.
Second, He taught me that obedience is my responsibility and outcomes are His responsibility. Paul wrote in Philippians 2:12-13, “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Again, we don’t work out our salvation with the emotion of fear. In Christ, we work out our salvation in faith. And if we are obedient just as Paul exhorted, He will use us to fulfill His good purpose—even while we wait for His return.
Not only did He heal my disease, but He also provided. He provided a missional opportunity right here in Des Moines. An opportunity that was before us all this time and right here in our own “Samaria”—the Eastview Community Center.
My wife, Michelle, and I, through the grace of God, penned a proposal and sent it off to the leaders of Valley Church. Our obedient hearts poured out the following: “The Sieber Family (Six Hands) desires to love our Lord and others by providing our time, talent, treasure and help kick start Eastview Community Center. The following proposal represents a plan of, starting with an initial fitness program, quickly implementing partnerships and programs at the venue to increase utilization and build a felt presence in the community.”
In late January, the leaders of Valley Church accepted our proposal and offered me the position of Eastview Community Center Director. God is good. He is going to do amazing things with these tools—myself, my family and the community center. And while there is much more to share about the vision and plans of the Eastview Community Center, these will have to wait until a future post.
I no longer have analysis paralysis. I no longer am intently looking up to the sky wondering what to do. He gave me a command. He gave me faith. He helped me redirect my faith back to him. I will be obedient and leave the outcome to Him.
Tim, Michelle and Drake Sieber have been attending Valley Church for two years. Michelle is on the Valley Children's Ministry staff while Tim operates Six Hands, their family legacy and ministry.