Lent (leading us to Easter) brings to mind three words: abstaining, freedom and discipline.
Advent (leading us to Christmas) brings to mind three different words: asking, waiting and marveling.
At the beginning of Lent I tend to find myself craving margin or clarity.
At the beginning of Advent I tend to find myself in a thankful place with God but wanting more.
We celebrate Christmas to honor the incredible gift of Jesus coming to rescue us by first being born a baby. Humble. Lowly. Human. This is huge! An extraordinary event of the past impacting humanity’s entire future. But what is even more amazing to me is how much rejoicing I can do today because of all that is still true about the Lord.
Around Christmas I find myself asking big things of God. I find myself daydreaming about life’s many possibilities and wondering what it was like for the Father to send His Son for such a purpose. I find myself waiting for Him restore what is chaotic or hurting and asking Him to change or teach or excite me in fresh ways.
In my life, anticipation is often a robber, usually because it is driven by fear. Anticipating problems or stress or noise steals peace, leaving anxiety the only way to exist. But with God, I think anticipation is always a little wonderful. I’m in my 18th year of being a child of His and He doesn’t need to remind me to pray about everything anymore. He is, however, calling me to pray more specifically and courageously.
There is nothing and no one better than the triune God. But truthfully, almost as often as I consider and adore Him I forget and choose lesser things or my own understanding. I heard recently that “fantasy is imagining the future without God in the best way, and anxiety is imagining the future without God in the worst way.”
What is imagining the future with God?
Faith. Hope. Peace.
Anticipation has the potential for negativity with everything but God. In our day-to-day lives with God, anticipation is expecting with hope and asking big of His power and marveling at the Good. We celebrate that He sent Jesus the first time, but that celebration is sweeter because we anticipate His return for His people. We recognize and feel deeply all that is sad and painful and disappointed in us, but we anticipate the day when Jesus will come and restore all that is broken.
Our anxious hearts can find a landing place, a home, in Christ’s coming, first at His birth and again when He returns. We can inhale and exhale, knowing real peace, while we anticipate all that God is for us today and for eternity. I heard Matt Chandler say once: “So rich and deep is the love of God that at the consummation of all things, ten billion years from now will be just as fresh, just as beautiful, and just as freeing as it’s ever been.”
I’m preaching to myself here (20 times a day): Leave future outcomes to Him. Remember past results through the filter of the gospel. Enjoy Immanuel – God with you right now – and remain in the moment.