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!

WATCH AND WAIT … IT IS OUR COMMAND!

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.

 

Snickers on the lookout
Snickers sitting on her crate while looking out the window into the front 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.

Snickers on alert sitting down
Snickers sitting at the bedroom window looking out into the backyard.

 

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.

Snickers on alert and standing
Snickers on alert as she spotted something in her backyard, If the threat continues, her next move is to run from room to room to get attention so she can get out into the yard!

 

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.