“The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:7-8
From my third year of medical school in 1980 until I retired from medicine in 2004, there were only two years that I had control of the call schedule. This occurred when I was the department chair at the US Naval Hospital in Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines. And those were the two toughest years of my professional life, largely because of my authority over the time my colleagues would be required to work in the hospital. When we were “on call,” we took care of every obstetrical and gynecological patient who would come to the hospital for evaluation and treatment. With 52 weeks in a year and 3 physicians to cover those weeks, one physician always had to take one more week of call than the other two. So there was constant tension. Time is the most precious commodity on earth.
So when Jesus tells us that God has authority to set dates and times, I find it very reassuring. I want God, who knows the end from the beginning and is full of mercy and grace, to be in charge of how much more time sin will be allowed to exist on this earth. As a follower of Jesus, the Father sets my call schedule. Just like a physician on call has been given power to provide the necessary treatment for people who come to the hospital, we see from our text today that Christ-followers are given power by the Holy Spirit to be witnesses for Jesus. To be a witness for Jesus simply means that we are His hands and feet to care for the hungry, the homeless, the thirsty, the sick, and the imprisoned.
Jesus gave this response in answer to the following question asked by the apostles, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and store our kingdom.” In other words, they were asking if they could get off the call schedule. They didn’t want to take care of any more sick people. They wanted to be in charge of their time. They wanted to do their own thing. And the truth is, we do too!
But Jesus says that the Father alone is in charge of our time. It’s a simple message really. But it calls me into account. I don’t make the call schedule. I do not have control over how much time I have. But I am in control over how I use the time I have. And for that, God has given me all the power of the universe at my disposal. So I ask myself as I ask you, What are you doing with each second of each day? Do you even think about it? Have you been a witness to others of the love of Jesus in your life? When you truly think about it, the only way to have the time of your life is to give your life to Jesus.