Think about the word “anticipate” for a moment. There are so many memories tied to anticipation in my life. The first major anticipation in my life was my wedding day. I knew that my life was about to take a turn as a I vowed to cherish and love someone for the rest of my days. I also remember all the preparation in anticipation of bringing our children home from the hospital. At the time, I knew things were about to change again, but did not realize just how drastic the change would become. Each child brought more interesting change to our lives and each moment brought its own anticipation. Nothing has been the same and each day is a new adventure. I can expect different things to happen, and anticipation helps me prepare for the inevitable change.
We can anticipate both positive and negative circumstances as well. Not every anticipation brings a memorable highlight but can bring sorrow, frustration, or many other emotions. However, I do believe that our attitudes toward what we anticipate has the power to affect the outcome either positively or negatively. That is the moment memories can become good or bad because attitudes bind themselves to an event. If we do not carry an anticipation, shock or apathy tends to be the result. Shock can cause a flurry of varying emotions, while apathy tends to excuse the situation.
Now think about Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the magi, and the rest of Israel and how each dealt with the anticipation of the coming Messiah. The course of history itself would change on the hinge of Jesus’s arrival. God came to be with man for the purpose of bringing salvation from sin. Some were looking for it, waiting expectantly for the Messiah, like Simeon and Anna in Luke 2:22-38. They praised the Lord upon the arrival of Jesus and spoke of Him to those in the temple. Mary and Joseph both expected Jesus after they were told. But who would have thought that God would have chosen them? Mary was amazed and yet submitted (Luke 1:26-38). Joseph’s plans were interrupted, but he also humbly submitted to God’s command (Matthew 1:18-25).
These kinds of realizations of anticipation cause me to think about my relationship with God, especially during the holiday season. I believe that each time we come before God that there should be an anticipation to be changed by Him. When we gather as a church, we should anticipate and expect God to move and do something among us, in us, and through us. If we do not, then when He calls us to obedience and it is not what we desire, our lack of anticipation brings shock and dismay. We might get to a point where we become frustrated or express a flurry of emotions that display our uneasiness. Or it means nothing, and apathy takes root in our hearts because we have not anticipated God to do anything. In moments like this, I think Mary and Joseph demonstrated the proper response and provide the perfect example for the church to emulate. We should humbly submit to God’s leadership.
God has so much in store for us as church, and for each of us individually. What are you anticipating God to do in your life? How are you preparing for that change? It’s coming!
We are also about to embark on a new adventure as a church because we believe that God is leading us closer to Him and toward each other in unity. Service times are changing to provide time together. Our service worship styles are merging in identity to use the common language of our community to relevantly introduce Christ. Life-changing events are not always easy, but they come. Some have anticipated the change. It has been shocking to others. Still others might be apathetic. I would ask that you purpose with me, regardless of where you stand in these changes, to emulate Mary and Joseph’s example and humbly submit to God’s leadership through these next steps. In all things, I want us to be anticipating God to do amazing things in us and through us.
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”