Summary: The ascension of Christ becomes a clear example for the church on how we handle charting into the unknown with God as the Source of our strength
There is an old legend of a benevolent king who had his men place a great heavy stone on a certain roadway over which all his subjects would be forced to travel. He then hid himself to see who would try to remove the stone only to discover that no one stopped to try to remove the stone, but all worked their way around it, loudly blaming the king for not keeping the roadway clear. Finally, a poor peasant farmer on his way to town with a load of vegetables which he hoped to sell in the marketplace for a profit to feed his family, came to the blocked roadway. In haste, he laid down his load and with considerable effort and loss of time he managed to move the great stone to the side of the roadway. Then, turning to leave, he spied a purse which had been under the stone to which he proceeded to open the purse and found it to be filled with pieces of gold, with a note from the king indicating that it was all to be the property of the one who would remove the stone.
As I read that in preparation for this message, how quickly it began to dawn on me that all of us face obstacles and difficulties on the roadway of life and have two options on how to handle life’s road. We can deal with the obstacle and roadblock or the obstacle and the roadblock can deal with us. We can either go around them and let another deal with them, or we can face them head-on and overcome them, using it for our good and our growth; turning the adversity into our advantage; and shifting the obstacle into an opportunity; and making the burden a definite blessing. For more often than not we find ourselves sandwiched between the backdrop of a pleasurable place of complacency over against the seeming risk of future possibility.
• As we stand on the brink of greatness as a church—will we allow the obstacles in the road to deter us, discourage us and impede our progress or will we move forward, navigate to new heights, charter new territory and impact the world for Jesus Christ?
• The obstacles of mediocrity/settling/business as usual/fear of the future and of tomorrow/lethargic and complacent people and toxic attitudes/setbacks/failures….
• And I have discovered that much like the peasant was rewarded for his work, you and I as believers, Christians, children of God—will be rewarded for persevering through the obstacles, difficulties, setbacks that try to hinder us, hurt us and harm when we use it to harness the power of God to help us, to teach us, to train, and to grow us.
And usually what God will do is He will seek to work in a place where there are people of purpose and pursuit and during those moments where He forces us to face the roadblock that stands between our past and our future; where there is a decisive moment of leaving what’s behind and seizing what’s ahead—that becomes the determining factor for success or defeat; where there are inevitably mixed and varying emotions about the future.
Consequently, I remember here in Houston, while I was in school there was talk—Bud Adams had become disgruntled with the city for he desired a new stadium and some things. Bud Adams was the owner of the then Houston Oilers. And so the city would not give him his new stadium and so he said, we are going to pack up and move. And so the city said you do what you’ve got to do and we’ll do what we have to do. Therefore now we have now the Tennessee Titans. Bud Adams packed up the Oilers and left the state of Texas and went to the state of Tennessee. And there had now been a great part of the history of the city of Houston was gone. That our National Football League, our professional football franchise –was no more. And then when we lose our football franchise we were the home of one of the great wonders of the world—the first dome stadium, the Astrodome, is in Houston, Texas. But the Astrodome loses some of her glory and lure if she does not have her team connected with it. Coupled with the Houston Oilers leaving for Tennessee, then the Houston Astros, that played at the Astrodome Stadium, build another stadium downtown. So you see where I’m going, that there were people who were tied to the tradition and all of the lure and glory of the Astrodome because it really reminded them of a great era in the life of the city but now it is no more. Then a few days later a man by the name of McNair, comes and he submits a proposal for a new sports team, a new football team…he submits it to the National Football League and they accepted it and hence we have a new football team in the city of Houston. Well what comes with this new football team is a brand new stadium, Reliant Arena. And so we have the end of an era that the Houston Oilers are no gone and the Astrodome is no more. I remember when they were going through the bidding process and they were taking names for mascots. They were talking about ‘maybe we ought to be the Houston Oilers again/Houston Rough Necks/Houston Texans.’ But they decided/settled on the Houston Texans. Then they started the construction of the Reliant Area. Of course, there were mixed emotions. Because they built Reliant Stadium on the parking lot of the Astrodome. The Astrodome still stands—but they start building the Reliant Stadium and the new stadium didn’t look anything like the old one. People remembered the Astrodome and they remembered that she had these multi-colored seats and it had these rainbow colors. And on the perfect day it could rain in the Astrodome if the atmosphere was right—It was just a phenomena—it was a special place. But now Reliant Stadium is on it’s way and people have mixed emotions—because ‘we don’t know anything about these Houston Texans/McNair…but we know the Houston Oilers.’ And so there were those who were hurt and then there were the children who didn’t know anything about the Houston Oilers were excited because ‘we’re getting a brand new professional football team, the Houston Texans’. And so there were mixed emotions in the city of Houston.