As Jesus ascended into heaven, the apostles just stood there. The Scripture says (Acts 1:11) they were "gazing up into heaven." We can speculate about reasons why they would have done this. First, they had never seen anyone ascend into the clouds so their first response was probably shock and awe. And no doubt that was a reaction we might all expect. But I think there is another reason they just stood there, looking up. Now, what do we do!?
Jesus had just spent forty days with them after his resurrection. They had found comfort in his presence. And forty days were long enough to take his presence for granted. After all, they asked him (Acts 1:6), "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom of Israel?" They believed Jesus was there to stay. But he wasn't there to stay. What the apostles didn't fully see was that he must first depart and then return before he would set up His kingdom on earth. So, they stood there gazing, wondering, what now?
The "two men who stood by them in white apparel" (Acts 1:10,11: angelic beings) snapped the apostles back into reality. "Why stand ye gazing into heaven," they asked. "This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." The reality check helped. So much so that the apostles "returned unto Jerusalem" (Acts 1:12), just as Jesus had told them to do (Acts 1:4).
If we can gain any practical help from this passage it is that Jesus Christ is coming back--We don't need to stand gazing at our world and the chaos around us and wonder, "Now what do we do?"
Along with the apostle Paul and other believers in the body of Christ, we are "workers together" (2 Corinthians 6:1), as "ambassadors for Christ." Shall we stop gazing and start sharing with the world the "word of reconciliation" (2 Corinthians 5:19), letting our friends and neighbors know that Jesus Christ took our sin and offers everlasting life for those who believe in him? Jesus Christ lived and died, was buried, and rose again so that we too might conquer death and live forever.
Jesus's ascension is a reminder that he will return, but in the meantime, we can turn our attention to the work he has placed before us as ministers of God together.