My childhood memories of Christmas evoke the delicious shiver of anticipation as I lay in bed on Christmas Eve whispering to myself, "I can't wait until it's morning! I can't wait!" Though our family joyously celebrated Christmas, finances were such that our gifts were simple and few. I could always count on a new doll or new flannel pajamas that my mom had lovingly made. One year, because I was the only girl with four brothers with whom everything had to be shared, my favourite gift was my own personal jar of olives to be savoured to my heart's content!
Anticipation can be an almost visceral feeling. It is defined as a feeling of excitement about something that is going to happen in the near future, as in "her eyes sparkled with anticipation."
In Old Testament times, the Jewish world was eagerly waiting for the coming of the promised Messiah. Yet, as the years of waiting stretched into decades and then centuries, people likely went on with their daily lives, only occasionally thinking about this coming Saviour. When the time was fulfilled and Jesus did arrive on the scene as a newborn baby, He did not have an expectant audience, ready and waiting for Him. One old man, however, was expecting Him:
Luke 2:25 – At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him. (NLT)
Today, we who know Jesus as Lord and Saviour are eagerly waiting for His return. We, too, expectantly look ahead to the end of the age when Jesus will appear, to take His beloved to be with Him forever.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 – For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. (NLT)
Though we are eager for this day to come, our years of waiting have also turned into decades and centuries. How are we to spend our time as we expectantly wait for His coming that could be today — but may still be in the distant future? Rather than twiddling our thumbs, waiting in indolent inactivity, we should keep an eye on the sky while, nonetheless, being productive in our daily service for Him. A life full of love and good deeds is well-pleasing to God.
Prayer: Dear loving Father, we are longing for the day when Jesus will come in the clouds to take us home to heaven. While we are waiting for this day to come, may we gladly use the time You have given us to work and serve You and others. Amen.
Listen to this devotional
Listen while you read: "Silent Night Holy Night" (Lyrics)