They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “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.”
If you were my neighbor last fall, it’s a pretty safe bet that you would have seen me standing and staring up into the sky. Every fall when I hear a certain distant bugling, you can catch me watching for the sandhill cranes as they fly overhead on their migration south. There is nothing that compares with the sight of those tiny dots flying so high that they are barely visible, and yet bugling their calls so vividly that I can feel the echo down deep in my chest.
Have you caught a glimpse of beauty flying by?
Is something stirred in your heart when you look up?
This spring morning caught me looking up also. The Easter weekend was only a few days past, so my thoughts had been dwelling with those disciples who had watched as their Risen Lord left them once again, ascending into the Heavens.
And just like that, the familiar bugling of my shorebird friends sounded through the morning air. Flying so low with their huge wings swooping in and out, the cranes were returning, back from their springtime migration.
What strange mystery lets them know it’s time to return? Is it the angle of the sun? Is it the warming days? Is it the magnetic pull of the poles? Scientists have their theories, but I think I know WHO awakens the stirring in their breasts, because I have felt a similar stirring in my own heart.
When the angels appeared to Jesus’ disciples, they asked the men what I have often thought was a strange question:
“Why do you stand here looking into the sky?”
Their Lord had just left them, after all! Into the sky He had vanished! But the angels’ next words stir something even deeper in my heart:
“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.”
For you see, I believe those disciples were looking into the sky, and longing for what “might have been,” as they missed their friend and Rabbi. Those days of walking with Him beside the sea, and listening to His teaching, watching Him heal the sick and raise the dead, had been like no others in their lifetimes. But the “might have been” could not compare with the true reality that was coming their way.
Oh, I know that feeling.
Wishing and longing for the old days
and the old way of doing things.
Can’t I just have one more glimpse, Lord?
But the days of this present
and the days of our future
are more wondrous
than anything the past
could show us.
Those angels did not know the days or the times when Jesus would return for His people. Jesus Himself had told them that only the Father holds those times in His hands:
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
So where does the calendar for the crane
and the heron, the oriole
and even the little hummingbird reside?
Their Father, who created them all,
holds the number of their days in His hands.
And Our Father,
who breathed us all into Life,
knows the number of our days as well.
He knows the New Lessons
and the New Kinship
that I will learn
He knows the pathway
where only Stillness
would help me hear
And one of these days, it won’t be
the Bugle of the Cranes that I hear.
No, my heart will leap
when the Trumpet of my Lord
He’s coming back and He won’t delay.
When the Father opens the way
“this same Jesus will return for His Bride”
If you have an interest in learning more about Sandhill Cranes, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is an excellent resource here.
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