The Day After

On the next day Jesus wanted to set out for Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.”—John 1:43 (NET)

Last year our family set out to hike the John Muir Trail.  I strategized and planned for 6 months.  Each night an imaginary highlight reel entertained me.   Weekends and Sabbaths were dedicated to researching gear, food, and itineraries.  Daily meals with exact caloric counts, precise propane usage, and wilderness itineraries were meticulously placed on spreadsheets.  Food shipped out three weeks in advance of our departure to three different locations.   The JMT map was on full display all over our living room walls.  The total distance for us was 250 wilderness miles with over 45,000 ft of elevation gain.

The first day was a resplendent novelty.  By 6AM we had photographed our hiking shoes pointing in the direction of the JMT with the caption “The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with One Step.”  Birds sang the score to this movie we were making, we energetically photographed each river-brook crossing, and we summited our first pass, New Army Pass, with a chess-pounding victory.   Setting up the first night of camp at Soldier Lake, the first hot meal, and toasting our first cup of hot cocoa was exhilarating, and the first sleep on the trail.  Firsts come packed with energy and wonder.

But darkness of soul set in as the stars came out.  I wondered if we would make it.   Jeru had lost her appetite and couldn't eat.  Julie had struggled with the altitude coming up New Army Pass, my gut was in knots over the 10 miles in 12 hours pace. The effort to go lightweight (23lbs packs w/food) resulted in sleeping bags that weren’t warm enough, and food that wasn't tasty.  The air leaked out of our air mattresses, that next morning we had no more imagination, no more curiosities, no more wonder, just the cold hard reality that we had 239 miles and 16 days to go.  

The day after was the hardest, mentally.   There were no passes out of the wilderness for the next 5 days.  We were stuck.   I kept saying to myself, “What did I get us into?!?”   Jed dry-heaved all night.  Jeru and Julie didn't sleep a lick.   Dehydrated milk and stale granola, rolling up the tents and gear in the shivering cold were not part of plotting and planning.   No one said a word the morning of the day after.   We trudged in silence; no one took pictures of creek-crossings.  Every hour or so someone would ask, “how much further?”  The miles on the map had looked shorter when I planned it out.   

The Day After... uhg. 

How does one make it?  What does one do on the day after?  I had the big plan, the itinerary and food drops, the campsites and mile quotas to meet.  But all of that, although absolutely necessary, doesn't get one through the mental battle.   Conventional wisdom says, “Well, ya just need to make up your mind, and do it!”  Whereas a made up mind is indispensable, the real question as we step into the day-after of this journey is how does one get a made up mind; what Romans calls a ‘fully convinced’ mind (14.5) and a renewed mind (12.2).

I think Acts gives us some clues into how the disciples navigated "day after" events in the post-ascension era on three occasions:  the day after the Ascension, the day after Pentecost, the day after the First Martyrdom.  Each event clues us into the nature of a made-up-mind.

Three Finds
to a Made Up Mind: 

1. Direction (1.8).   The day after Jesus departs the disciples are found collectively and patiently waiting in Jerusalem.  Jesus' final departing words directed his disciples to "go wait in Jerusalem until you are filled with power."   This word held them fast for the next ten days in Jerusalem.   Whenever we receive a clear word our minds are given singularity of focus and resolve.  And whether that voice passes to you through a Scripture, song, friend, or thought there will be an inner knowing, an inner recognition, that gives you the made-up-mind strength.

2. Demonstration (2.46).   The day after the Spirit is demonstrated (cloven tongues of fire, speaking in tongues, rushing mighty wind) they "continue" in the power of the Spirit.   The power of this experience is the means by which their minds are made up.    The Spirit in them convinces them to continue.   The demonstration of the Spirit in our lives enlivens our minds (Rom 8) and resulting in a new kind of  "self-control" (Gal.5.23).   

3. Desperation (8.1).  The day after Stephen is martyred the early church, out of the suffering and disappointment, determines to scatter with the message as Jesus had instructed, "all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" 

Now on that day [Stephen's martyrdom] a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were forced to scatter throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria.—Acts 8:1 (NET)

 The desperation effect is a state we frequently discover God's presence to be in as he stands with us in solidarity of our suffering, he frequently repurposes the ache and pain, and brings resolve to our mind.   Desperation, the emotion that frequently accompanies suffering and disappointment, should not be underestimated as God over and over in Scripture seen in the thick of it, bringing higher purpose and better good out of it.   

  • The suffering of Joseph in slavery and prison... repurposed to position him to lead Egypt.
  • The disappointment of Jacob on the run as a fugitive... repurposed as a place to meet God and see God's faithfulness in a Divine wealth and blessing independent of his dad's trust fund.

Direction, demonstration, and desperation have something in common.   God is present.   God uses whatever is available to renew our mind.  Our role then is response.  And in this role we slow down, identify whether he’s directing us to wait, empowering us to work, or repurposing and repositioning us through our desperation.

  1. Where was the most recent time God directed your life?  How did he direct you?  What did he say?
  2. Where was the most recent demonstration of the Spirit's power in your life?  What was it giving you strength for?
  3. What do you have the strongest sense of desperation regarding?
  4. How are any of these working together to give you a sense of a "made up mind"?