AnticipationBeloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him;
for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
(I John 3: 2-3)

For me as a kid, nothing was more joyful, and at the same time more torturous, then waiting.

Especially when the wait was for something I really looked forward to – the night before a vacation, for example, or the late hours of Christmas Eve. I loved the excitement of anticipation; I loathed the seemingly endless hours of waiting. And I guess that never really changes. When you’re genuinely looking forward to a great event, you stay focused on the event itself, and diligent to insure you’ve done what’s necessary to prepare for it. So the waiting becomes a delicious mix of joy and agony. Joy over what’s coming; agony over the wait.

John reminds us of this very thing. Ready or not, there’ll be a Coming which ends everything as we know it, ushering in something so glorious that our limited minds can’t grasp it. (As Paul promised in I Corinthians 2:9: “Eye has not seen, nor ear head, nor has it entered into the heart of man the things God has prepared for those who love him.”) So multiply the anxious wonder of a Santa-expectant child lying awake the night before Christmas, several times over, and you get a sense of how we should be feeling, acting, and living: in anticipation, with anticipation, and expressing anticipation.

Granted, His coming isn’t something we’ll all see from this end. You or I could die first, a process we don’t necessarily look forward to, but one which we know ushers us directly into His presence (II Corinthians 5:8) leaving the rest of the poor saints in the dust while we cross the finish line. Either way, death or second coming, we win. And the person keeping this unalterable fact before herself or himself lives a fuller, more vibrant life, anticipating the shortness of this one and the glorious joy of the next.

And since both my sons are now fully grown and I no longer hear the “gimmee” lists of boyhood, I’ve got a few “gimmees” of my own now. They’re inspired by scripture and, in fact, guaranteed, spelling out what I’m anticipating with my eyes all aglow:

Gimme an End to Groaning

“All creation groans and travails together”, Paul said, “waiting for the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:22) So it’s been ever since sin entered the world through Adam’s rebellion, polluting and limiting the human experience until it became something wildly different from what God intended. You and I know, theologically and, I daresay, instinctively, this life isn’t the way it was meant to be. Broken relations, damaged and diseased bodies, celebration of sin and prohibition of godliness – what an unintended mess! Not to mention our daily struggle with our own carnal tendencies, a struggle we’ll gleefully shed when the groaning ends. And the sooner the better.

Gimme Rewards

Seems unfair to ask for these, since any ability we have to earn rewards is given by God Himself, so we’re essentially paid for what our Boss gave us both the ability and opportunity to do. Yet Jesus said to lay those babies up (Matthew 6:20) so let’s not be shy about seeking them. Our private prayers (Matthew 6:6) sacrificial actions (Matthew 6:4) persecutions in this life (Matthew 5:12) and resistance of temptation (James 1:12) all generate eternal, incorruptible rewards which we can anticipate and rely on. What exactly they’ll be, and be like, we don’t know. But given the fact Jesus advised laying them up, I wouldn’t bet against their value, nor against our joy unspeakable when we get them.

Gimme complete understanding of, and communion with, Him

Seeing through a glass darkly, as Paul says we do (I Corinthians 13:12) means among other things that our knowledge of Him is hugely incomplete. Jesus is the Lord I know and very imperfectly follow, yet despite the fact no person has influenced my life like He has, I only know Him in fragments. His presence, still small voice, comfort, discipline, power and anointing are things I do have a little experience with, but it’s so little. And there’s so much more to Him I am clueless about. Funny. I love Him and really am trying to be like Him, but ask me what He’s like and the picture I give you will be so incomplete; so piecemeal. Part of what keeps me going, then, is the knowledge that I’ll someday have knowledge, inside out, of Him. And finally, when someone asks “Do you know Jesus?”, I’ll be able to say with integrity, “Yes, and thoroughly!”

We have this hope in us today. God grant that, having it, we purify ourselves, as John said, living in the glow of anticipation and the knowledge of something so much better just waiting, just a little longer, any day now – – –


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