For three years the disciples had walked with Jesus. They had seen Him heal the sick. They had heard him teach. Peter had even walked on water with the Lord. And they had gone out in twos themselves to do the kind of things Jesus had been doing. Jesus had told them that He would die and rise again, yet on Easter Sunday we find them huddled together in a room with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders (John 20.19). They were still central to what Jesus wanted to accomplish in the world. However, at this moment, they didn’t have the capacity for anything outside of the four walls of the room to which they had confined themselves.
The lack of capacity that the disciples had is not an unusually first century problem. We can come to places in life where God’s plans for us and even our prayers for what we want God to do for or through us require spiritual capacity that we don’t have at present. Often, like the disciples, our capacity is limited by some sort of negative emotion. Fear is the obvious one. Other emotions, perhaps not so obviously inhibiting, can be equally restrictive. Disappointment. Anxiety. Discouragement. You can add to the list.
Things are further complicated because we don’t always know what to do with such strong emotion. What do you do? The important thing to recognise is that the power of any emotion to restrict us is determined by the belief system that underlies it. What you believe is ultimately more powerful than what you feel.
Going back to John 21, Jesus gate crashes the disciples meeting. He shows them His hands and side. He speaks peace to them and commissions them to go into the world, promising them the presence of the Spirit with them (John 21.19-23).
To increase our capacity, we need to know and believe that Jesus is with us. He is with us through the Spirit. He lives within us. He goes wherever we go. He speaks peace to us. He wants us to know that He is full of grace – the wounds in His hands and side are eternal signs that God has been and will continue to be gracious to us. And He turns us outward. Wherever we are at, His purpose is still that we are active as His witnesses in the world, with the Holy Spirit right there with us to help us.
We might not expand our capacity over night – it was nearly another two months before Pentecost. But as we anchor our faith in Jesus, in His presence with us and His words to us, our capacity for what God wants to do in our lives will surely expand.