Have you ever watched children as the months of the year go by and November gives way to December? It’s not the anticipated chill in the air that gets their childish juices flowing into excitement that is palpable when you enter their room. It’s not, necessarily, the potential end-of-semester party that they can have if they successfully traverse their schoolwork obligations.
No, it is the anticipation of Christmas. The celebration of Christ’s birth and a time when presents are exchanged and wishes granted. Some families even have advent calendars where there are doors to open for each day of the month leading up to Christmas Day, with small surprises behind the doors for the children. The children count the days left and look eagerly at the calendar to see if, perhaps, THE day was closer than they thought when they went to bed the night before. Sometimes my grandchildren can hardly stand up without jumping from foot to foot in excitement. Such is the challenge of watching and waiting.
At our house, however, we don’t have to wait for Christmas to see an illustration of watching and waiting. We see it multiple times a day when our little MinPin Snickers sits at the window looking out at either the front or the back yard. The window or shade does not have to be open much, just enough to let her get a glimpse of the yard.
She watches for the birds, squirrels, occasional cat, whatever enters her domain challenging her security and sanctity. Now, she is not all that much bigger than the squirrels or cat, and we have had some hawks that would think she was the appetizer for their luncheon. But, she is unaware of that.
She sits, literally by the hour, and watches out the window. Changing position, looking out the window wherever she can get a glimpse, standing sometimes, sitting often, and wagging her tail in sheer enjoyment. Sometimes her sister, Cuddles, will sit and look out, but then Cuddles will run away and get to a toy. Not Snickers – it does not matter that she is the only one watching … she remains vigilant at her post.
When she sees something she is ready to spring, except there is the pesky window issue. But that is an issue for a blog on another day.
The issue here is her watching, patiently waiting and watching for something to happen.
We all have a hard time watching and waiting. We want things done promptly, perhaps even before we asked! We have instant on TVs; microwaves for instant food; single cup coffee brewers so we don’t have to wait for a full pot to brew; instant return on investments; instant information on our cell phones, ipods, computers … I don’t even know all the names of the digital electronic devices that are available today.
The point for our society is that we don’t want to wait. We want everything NOW. In fact, when our children were young there was a song with the refrain “I want it all and I want it now!” [Needless to say, that song was not one of my favorites!]
That is not the way of the Cross. Jesus said that His people are to watch and wait. For what are we watching and waiting? For His return. Matthew chapter 24 goes into great detail, but I have excerpted some pertinent verses:
As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” – Matthew 24:3
And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. – Matthew 24:14
For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. – Matthew 24:27
Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. – Matthew 24:30-31
“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. – Matthew 24:36
Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. – Matthew 24:42
Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. – Matthew 24:44 [ESV]
While we are waiting and watching for His return, we are not to sit at the window and look out. Rather, we are to serve Him and witness for Him, spreading His gospel to those who don’t know Him. And, we are not to do this alone – He has promised His Spirit to be with us and to guide us into what to say and do.
After his death and resurrection, He appeared to the apostles and believers and told them that they should remain in Jerusalem and wait. They would receive power and then they should go out into the world in His Name. This discussion is recorded in Acts, chapter 1 and is excerpted here:
And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” – Acts 1:4-5
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. – Acts 1:8-9 [ESV]
While the early Apostles and believers were following His instruction and were waiting for the promised power, the Holy Spirit came to them on the Day of Pentecost. Jesus fulfilled His promise from Acts 1. He will fulfil the promise in Matthew 24 too.
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. – Matthew 24:35 [ESV]
Snickers provides an example in that she does not care if anyone else is standing with her as she watches the yard. I pray that even if it is unpopular, we will follow Jesus’ command to wait and watch. May we be vigilant at the post Jesus has assigned to us.
Waiting. Praying and working. Witnessing and testifying to what Jesus has done in our own lives. Always while we are watching for our Lord to return.
Father, help me to have the patience that little Snickers illustrates when she sits watching and waiting. Help me to be so aware that Jesus’ return could be at any moment that I will measure my life and activities with that in mind. Help me to remember that my home is with Jesus and I have been directed by Him to watch and wait for His promised return. May I live in anticipation of His return.