ANTICIPATION!

It has been almost two months since we have been locked down due to COVID-19.   It has been an amazing experience, unlike any that I have ever had to be sure!

Who would have thought that, as we celebrated 2020 on New Year’s Eve, we would have a complete shutdown of life as we knew it.  The economy has tumbled.  Healthcare workers have become heros of our world, and rightfully so!  Families have had “drive by parties” or perhaps “Zoom parties” to celebrate birthdays.  Graduates have been unable to go to prom and have even lost the opportunity to have their families at their graduation ceremony, if they are fortunate enough to have a real commencement ceremony at all.  Businesses and shopping malls are dead zones and Federal Express and UPS are now the people who fulfill our shopping needs by home delivery after we have ordered out goods online.

Anticipation – Webster Collegiate Dictionary defines anticipation as “a prior action that takes into account or forestalls a later action; the act of looking forward.”  One of the best pictures I have of anticipation is this one, of my young grandchild as he waited for us to present him with a present.

anticipation
Anticipation.

It is that feeling of being sooo ready for something to happen that we can hardly stand it.  The lock-down was good to keep us healthy and to prevent our contracting COVID-19, but it was confining; it stopped our activities; it caused financial hardship that will take a long time to repair.  Anticipation — is it time yet?  Can we open the doors and go to a restaurant?  Can we greet our neighbor without a facemask?  Can we … 

This feeling of anticipation is running rampant throughout our society.  We can taste it — it’s like the light at the end of the tunnel.  It won’t get here soon enough!

Beloved, the end of COVID-19 is not the only thing we should be anticipating! 

In John 14:3, Jesus told His disciples that He would be leaving them, but that He would also be returning, to take those who believed in Him to heaven.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also

Jesus also said that He would be returning in power and great glory.

And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

Luke 21:27 

In Acts 1:6-11 we read of Jesus’ ascension into heaven.  After he had disappeared from the disciples’ sight, we read this starting in verse 10: 

And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

We don’t know when this will happen, but Jesus’ return is as certain as the rising of the sun in the morning.  Jesus’ first coming was as a baby in humble, dare we say poor, surroundings.  The Creator laid aside His power and came in humiliation to this world.  The second time Jesus comes to this place, it will not be so.

In Luke 17:24 Jesus said:

For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day.

As Christians we are to be waiting for Jesus’ return.  We are to be in great anticipation of this event.  Paul said: 

And they speak of how you are looking forward to the coming of God’s Son from heavenJesus, whom God raised from the dead. He is the one who has rescued us from the terrors of the coming judgment.

1 Thessalonians 1:10 [NLT]

Beloved, be excited about our society returning to normal when the lock-down is over.  But, much more importantly, always be in anticipation of the return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Be ready for His return.  It is a sure and certain thing, and it could happen even before our lock- down is released.  

Father, I praise Your Name for the majesty of Your creation, for the unfathomable love that has been extended to us through Jesus’ death in atonement for our sins, for the inexpressible gift of eternal life with You through belief in Jesus as the Christ.  Keep us in anticipation of that glorious day when Jesus will return to take His people to heaven.  

Jesus, come quickly!

PLANNING AND WAITING EXPECTANTLY

Have you ever planned something a long time in advance, like 18 months or more, and then it came time for the event, and you almost missed the fun and excitement of it in the worry and concern about details?

I admit that I am a hopeless planner.   When our daughter got married, I had lists to keep track of the lists — the overarching list was of things that had to be done and then the other individual lists of each of those things with detailed points to be checked off as the task was completed.

bride-down-the-aisle
Our daughter as she walks down the aisle with my husband … a glorious day indeed!

If a trip is being discussed, I will have a list, usually in Excel, where each day is outlined, things to do are identified along with address and phone number, hours of operation and sometimes even the cost of admission.  If a day has 3 or 4 events, I am a happy camper.  My lists are not set in concrete.  If something else looks interesting, we can and should do that, but in case we can’t find anything else, I have my lists.  I don’t want to have empty time … fill it up and then eat!

I can rationalize this mania for lists, of course, but the reality is that sometimes, in the preparation and scheduling, I miss the point.  When she got married, we were celebrating this creation of a new home and were asking God to bless it with His presence and guidance through the years to come.  When we are going on a vacation with our children and grandchildren, we want to forge memories, to tell stories of how God has been involved in our lives through the years, to pass the torch from generation to generation.  That’s what important, not what schedule we will have or whether the event goes along without a hitch.

When I get lost in the detail, I forget the big picture and sometimes I run the risk of missing it entirely.

This characteristic of mine makes me think of the Pharisees and other religious leaders in Jesus’ day.  They kept the rules; they taught the dos and don’ts; they were zealous for God.  But they missed Him when He came.  The Old Testament has numerous prophesies about the Messiah, and these teachers could read the verses from Isaiah and Psalms and probably quote them by heart, but they were so lost in the details of dogma that they missed the important One.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:14

king-size-bed
The manger that provided a place to sleep for our Savior was, on that day, a bed for the King.

Their preoccupation with the rules and details of what they expected resulted in them missing the Messiah’s coming.  Even more than that, it resulted in the actual rejection of the very One they said they were waiting for.

 

They rejected Him when He did not fit the mold they were expecting.

 

Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him.

Matthew 26:3-4

 

They were waiting, as they were told to do so in the Old Testament, but they were not waiting expectantly … in short, they r-e-a-l-l-y didn’t think anything was going to happen.  They did not expect the Savior to be born, certainly not on their watch!  He would certainly not come as Jesus did, so they rejected His message and His life – they set out to kill him and, ultimately, they did so.

 

In today’s world, we are still waiting for the Lord, but this time it is for His second coming.  This time it is waiting for Him, when He will usher in the end of time and the beginning of our eternity.  We are told to wait for Him and He promised that He would come again.

 

“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.  When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.”

Matthew 25:13. 31

 

He said that He would come back.  Do we wait expectantly for our Lord to return?

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

John 14:3

 

Are we weighed down with the cares of this life so that His second coming is nowhere on our radar screen?

“And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  … Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.  But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Luke 21:27, 33-36

 

Are we longing to see Him and to leave this world behind for the life we will have with Him in heaven?

 

I may be able to list out the details of a wedding or a trip, but I cannot list the details of the second coming of my Lord and Savior.  I can, however, trust what He says in Scripture. The details of this incredible event are unimportant to me here and now. I don’t need to know all the ins and outs of the details.  Those are in God’s hands.  The fact that Jesus will return is based on the truth of Scripture.

 

God’s Word is true.  Unless my body quits and I die first (at which time I will be met by my Lord in heaven), Jesus will return and take me to join the Church Triumphant.  Praise His holy Name!

 

Lord, may I be so in tune with You and your Word that I don’t get caught up in the detail but I rest in You and your righteousness, love, mercy and grace.  May I not get so entwined with the goods, activities and cares of this world that I forget to watch and prepare for your return.  Thank you Lord for salvation and the blessing of your Word and for the security and truth of your promises!