Note: This post was written prior to the actual Sunday that is reflected upon. Since the topic was anticipation, writing the post anticipating that day seemed appropriate. Plus, I am on vacation this week and promised my husband I would not “work.” (I tried to tell him that blogging was not work – it doesn’t feel like work to me – but he wouldn’t buy it. So, since I won’t let him check his work email…)
Anticipation sometimes feels great such as when an exciting vacation or special event approaches. Anticipation also sometimes feels not so great such as when life hands you diagnosis of disease or announcement of a job layoff. (Actually, this would more accurately be termed anxiety or worry.) Today’s focus lies with the good kind of anticipation.
Just like memories allow you to relive events and experience some of their joy again, anticipation presents the opportunity for enjoying events before they take place. Yet, too often, we get so caught up in the details of planning for an event that we forget to enjoy the process. Anticipation involves enjoying the process. Anticipation means looking forward with pleasurable expectation.
When planning events gets in the way of the pleasurable expectation, stepping back is a good idea. Maybe feeling uptight and anxious about an upcoming event means over-planning and considering every contingency have clouded the pleasure of anticipating an event. Now, I’m certainly not suggesting a lack of planning. Anyone who knows me knows that I would never say such a thing. But what I am saying is that I do know that failure to enjoy the process results in missing out on a lot of joy. So what’s the solution?
For me, truly anticipating means not doing everything myself. As we prepared for vacation, I invited my oldest son to help find activities at our destination. My youngest son loves to buy road trip surprises to give to his older brother, so he was given that job. My husband and I enjoy deciding on what movie marathon we will enjoy on vacation (The old Superman movies, by the way), and he is great at helping to remember the necessities we need to pack. Involving others has truly allowed me to enjoy planning for events and thus helped me to experience pleasurable expectation.
Oh that I would have figured out this mindset before planning my wedding 19 years ago and even before planning so many of my kids’ birthday parties and most of our vacations. Even many times spent planning for company for dinner existed with frustration. Not anymore. Having experienced true anticipation has created a desire in me to enjoy the process whenever possible.
As I considered how my over-planning and worrying about “what ifs” have impeded my enjoyment of anticipation, the Holy Spirit then led me to a place of asking how anticipation exists in my relationship with the Lord. When I followed this leading, my discoveries revealed yet another area needing some pruning.
The Bible says Christians should anticipate the day of the Lord’s coming (2 Corinthians 5:8), and 1 Peter 1:3 tells us to “live with great expectation” because of God’s mercy through Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, my walk with the Lord has not always been one of “great expectation.” Rather, it has been one of “hold me up, Lord,” “please fix this,” and “I can’t take it anymore.” While those are not bad pleas in and of themselves and the Lord wants us to cry out to Him in these ways, they only just skim the surface of what having a relationship with Christ means. That relationship doesn’t just mean leaning on Him for help in troubled and stressful times, but it also means soaring with Him in victory and “great expectation” for an abundant and blessed life.
With this idea of “great expectation” comes the knowledge that no matter what happens this side of Heaven, we can expect greater things to come. No matter how low or how high, valley or mountaintop, the future of a Christian exists as one of expectation for greater things to come.
Living with this “Great expectation” ultimately should alter our daily lives. Does it? Do you anticipate Sunday morning church service? Do you anticipate the day of rest? On what do your expectations focus if not on the goodness, grace and mercies of God?
DISCUSSION: Do you eagerly anticipate events such as vacations? Or, do you dread them because of all the work and planning involved? How can you learn to enjoy the process? How does the “great expectation” talked about in 1 Peter change your perspective on life in general?
Note: Comments will be approved and replied when I return from vacation. Until then, I will eagerly anticipate reading and responding to what you have to say!