I remember being a kid waiting for Christmas for most of the month of December. Anticipation built steadily. Dreams about what was going to happen on that ‘day’ were a regular occurrence. The wait distracted from school work, although it generally helped to improve behavior. ‘Good kids’ get better gifts my child’s brain reasoned. Six years ago I was in a season of excruciatingly painful waiting, watching my wife grow weaker and sicker by the day and knowing that her time on earth was closing. That wait brought focus, my attention narrowing down to Bev, almost exclusively as I cared for her each hour of everyday.
And, this year I am again in a time of waiting, figuring out life after retirement! The rhythm of work in the church that carried me from week to week for decades is gone. Now I wait and wonder what God has next for me even as I enjoy life without deadlines to be met!
I know this: I must continue to live ‘in the moment’ even while anticipating the future. “Be present!” Choosing to be engaged, to do what needs to be done today, is critically important to life’s enjoyment, to being a person of rich relationships. If we are completely focused on tomorrow’s anticipated developments the opportunities of the moment will pass unrealized.
God, through inspiration of Paul’s writing, teaches Christians about living in that tension between today and tomorrow. He says to us “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:11-13, NIV)
The great hope of the Christian is the revelation of the Kingdom of Christ Jesus. He promised to return and to replace the Curse with Blessings beyond our wildest dreams. I choked with emotion this morning as I read these words from the Revelation: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”” (Revelation 21:3-5, NIV) War, famine, cancer, disease, aging, and even death itself will be gone – ‘the old order’ the former way of life replaced with the perfection of Christ!
My dear friend, we must not allow this hope to be obscured by the business of the day. We cannot forget to pray, as Jesus taught, ‘may Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.’ That hope, the Word says, gives us reason to reject selfishness, short-sighted choices for momentary pleasures that actually bring regret. We say “No” to ungodliness because we wait in faith. We do not retreat into our holy huddle isolated from the world in which we live. We do not stop living as children of God here and now, doing the work of God, because we are hopeful. The Bible says that the powerful hope of eternal life and the King’s return will cause us to live our best life now.
Jesus told a story about anticipation and forgetfulness. We read it in Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 25. A master was getting ready to go on a long trip so he called three of his household workers in and gave them care of his estate. To one he gave 5 units, to another 2 units, and to another just 1 unit. The first two, in anticipation of the master’s return, diligently used the trusted resources and doubled them! Both received the same commendation – “‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’” (Matthew 25:21, NIV) The other took what he was given and buried it! He failed to anticipate the day of accounting and the possibility of reward. When he was called before the master at his return, he offered excuses and was thrown out of the household called a ’wicked, lazy servant!’
Let’s pray to remember the Promised Return of the King! For some of us, we will meet Him when we transit the valley of death into eternal life. For others, He will arrive as the King of Kings, bringing His kingdom to earth. Either way, I intend to live to hear ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!’ How about you?
Here is a word from the Word. May God encourage us to choose wisely and best in the light of His return. “For God is not unfair. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other Christians, as you still do. Our great desire is that you will keep right on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and patience.” (Hebrews 6:10-12, NLT) Amen!
O come O come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice rejoice Emmanuel
Shall come to thee O Israel
O come Thou Dayspring come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight
O come Thou Key of David come
And open wide our heavn’ly home
Make safe the way that leads on high
And close the door to misery
O come Thou Wisdom from on high
And order all things far and nigh
To us the path of knowledge show
And cause us in her ways to go
O come Desire of nations bind
All peoples in one heart and mind
Bid envy strife and quarrels cease
Fill the whole world with heaven’s peace
Words: Public Domain