Wrapping My Hands Around Anticipation

My kids are getting excited about Christmas. But I notice my son’s questions often focus on the actual day.

“Is it Christmas yet?”

“Well no, but it’s almost Christmas TIME..” I respond.

“No, but when is Christmas DAY?” he retorts.

As I drive down the road and he starts in on what he thinks Christmas day will be like, I think about the Christmas season. The music, the smells, the decorations… there’s so much anticipation. I love it.

Today is the Saturday before Thanksgiving and I realize my anticipation is getting worked up again. No gift shopping or special music, but family coming into town and days off from school. Maybe it’s the atypical schedule that draws me in or looking ahead at a moment where we all stop and reflect.

Moments of thanks and gifting can be awkward and pregnant with weight, but I look forward to them just the same. Maybe it’s because I am “woke to my feelings” as they say, and revel in a reflection of something real and physical that is typically hidden and intangible. As we all prepare for something together, there’s a sense of community and legitimacy surrounding the hardest things in life like family and love. These are elements of who we are that frequently get glossed over since we have more pressing things to attend to like bills and groceries. But these holidays – all of them this season – ask us to stop what we are doing and make our very real moments about something more.

Something harder to wrap our hands around.

Do I have this same excited expectation about heaven? Anticipation of my eternal home does not always come naturally and certainly the very real life I’m living now is plenty of distraction. But like the other events I look forward to, heaven is the intangible becoming tangible. The unknown becoming reality. The ugliness of working through the hard days, the desperate need for forgiveness, the unbridled euphoria of the gift of mercy… those things all become as real as my bills and the laundry when Christ returns to renew our bodies and this earth.

My anticipation reaches out to welcome the coming truths.

But like the holiday season and the Christmas smells, that anticipation is fleeting. Squabbling children, deadlines, and the stress of actual human relationships pull us away and even poke holes  in our concept of the world. Doubt and fear creep in. What if it’s all a hoax? What if He didn’t really say these things? What if this present life is all there is?

Do you recognize those doubts? Did I really just say those things aloud? Print them in ink? Is that allowed?!

It is. Because this reality is too rich in the unseen for us to have unspeakable thoughts.

Instead I will face my doubt head-on and nurture the anticipation that wavers. My functional brain will process the facts including the evidence that a man died on a cross and rose again. And I will remember the Word that has withstood centuries of heresy, and I will cling to the promises of Christ.

Because this reality is too rich in the unseen for there to be nothing else.

Anticipating these family gatherings and the music and the glorious meals we will share brings me joy and makes these cold windy days a little easier to tolerate. I will revel in the gifts of this season and ask God to use it as a reminder of the coming realities He has promised for all who believe in the life, death, and resurrection of His sacrificial son. May we all look forward to the coming Messiah as we look forward to grandma’s sweet potato casserole topped with mini marshmallows (or insert your favorite food here).

 

holidaymeal

 

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