Enjoy the Process
Anticipation can be pleasurable expectation or filled with apprehension. It involves contemplation and hope, and it serves to create a foresight or foretaste of future events. Anticipation can be positive or negative, though the negative side is maybe better described as anxiety.
Just like memories allow reliving of events and the joy they brought, anticipation presents the opportunity for enjoying events even before they take place. Yet, too often, we get so caught up in the details of planning that we forget to enjoy the process. For anticipation to hold pleasure, we need to learn to enjoy the process.
When planning events gets in the way of the pleasurable anticipation, it’s time to step back. Maybe feeling uptight and anxious about an upcoming event means over-planning and considering every contingency have added unnecessary complexity and simplifying your approach is needed.
I’m certainly not suggesting a lack of planning. Anyone who knows me much at all knows I would never say such a thing. What I am saying is that I do know that failure to enjoy the process not only results in missing out on a lot of joy but also creates a lot of tension and stress.
For me, truly anticipating means not doing everything myself. When my family prepares for a vacation together — or any other event, really — the joy of the event multiplies. We get to enjoy planning the event, connecting during it, and reliving the memories for years afterward.
Involving others has truly allowed me to enjoy planning and thus enjoy anticipating many of life’s events. If only I’d have had this mindset before planning my wedding many years ago, before so many of my kids’ birthday parties, and even during times spent planning for something as simple as a cookout with a few friends.
As I considered how my over-planning and worrying about “what ifs” used to constantly impede pleasurable anticipation, the Holy Spirit led me to also ask how anticipation exists in my relationship with the Lord. My discoveries revealed yet another area needing some pruning.
Anticipate the Lord
The Bible says Christians should anticipate the day of the Lord’s coming by choosing to live for him now.
“Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord — for we walk by faith, not by sight — we are of good courage, I say and prefer to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed (compensated) for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:6-10)
It also tells us to praise God in our anticipation of what he will do because of what he has already done.
“It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation…” (1 Peter 1:3)
Unfortunately, my walk with the Lord has not always been one of pleasurable anticipation. 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 our need, 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. It also means soaring with him in victory and anticipation of his fulfilled promises yet to come because of what he has already done through Christ.
No matter what happens this side of Heaven, we can expect greater things to come when we enter eternity. No matter how low the valley or high the mountaintop, a Christian’s future exists as one of pleasurable anticipation for greater things to come both in this life and in the next.
Living with this anticipation of the Lord should alter our daily lives because we know what God has done, can see what he’s doing, and have promises to hold on to that tell us what to anticipate from him in the future.