I love New Year’s Eve.
I absolutely love New Year’s. Everything about it. I love the fact that it extends the holidays just a little more before it’s back to the grind. I love the glitter, the sparkles, the closing of a chapter, and of course-the champagne! (Why don’t we drink champagne more often?) But most of all, I love the anticipation.
The anticipation of the midnight hour, of the good food, or maybe if we’re lucky- the New Year’s kiss. Maybe it’s the close of a year, and the anticipation of a brand new fresh start. Whatever it is, that sweet, tingly, giddy feeling in our soul is what brings the magic.
It’s the same feeling you got as a child when putting that first tooth under your pillow, or the night before the first day back to school after a fun summer. It’s Christmas Eve, when you first open your eyes on your birthday morning, or the euphoric rush of a Thursday (we’re sooooo close to the weekend!). When you think about what is on the horizon, just one sleep away, you begin to feel the excitement- the rush of what is to come.
What exactly is that feeling? What is it about that moment that holds so much power? Is it because we know what is ahead? Or the fact that we don’t quite know what’s ahead? Is it both?
It’s anticipation. And anticipation, when you stop and think about it, is quite often more rewarding and exciting that what we are actually waiting for.
Anticipation, in its root form (anticipate) means to ‘regard as probable; to expect or predict’. It is a psychological, scientific function in our brain. We can’t physically stop it from happening. Anticipation happens in the cerebellum of the brain, which is where automatic, non-thinking behavior happens. We know something is coming, so the in-between time before it happens is truly anticipation itself. In order to create good or happy anticipation, we must have something good or happy to anticipate.
It’s hard to explain the phenomenon of waiting in anticipation for what is to come. A character that we all know describes it in a way that we can relate to:
“Well, said Pooh, “What I like best,” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.” – A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh
or in one of my favorites:
“When I think something nice is going to happen, I seem to fly right up on the wings of anticipation, and then the first thing I realize I drop down to Earth with a thud. But really, Marilla, the flying part is glorious as long as it lasts…. it’s like soaring through a sunset. I think it almost pays for the thud.” – L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea
I think we get it. We know, see and understand that there is in fact, a ‘holding pattern’ between when we realize something will happen and when it actually does. If you’re like me, this is extremely frustrating.
In case you don’t know me, I tend to be a liiiittle headstrong, stubborn, and fast. I like to think about what I want to happen, make a plan how to get there, and make my way to that point in the way that I see best fits my timeline.
However, I’m learning in my short 25 years of life, that that’s not always the best way to do things. And it certainly isn’t always what God has in mind for me.
See, I tend to like to skip over the anticipation part, even though it is vital in God’s equation for us. Anticipation can be so sweet, so intoxicating, so magical. And it can also become agonizing, painful; a place that breeds disappointment.
When looking at biblical anticipation, we find many times where anticipation was eating away at His people, even though the outcomes were beautiful. What about Mary, when she realized that she would deliver the Son of Man, who would later deliver us all? Or Jesus, with the anticipation for his painful crucifixion, which would later prove an empty tomb? Or Elizabeth as she awaited the birth of John, after waiting years to conceive? The shepherds when the angels told them about the baby born in Bethlehem?
What exactly did they do?
“When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about. So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.” – Luke 2: 15-16
They hurried off. They were running to the King. The shepherds weren’t sitting around saying, “Well his parents might pass by one day and we can sneak a peak.” No. They made plans and began their journey that day. Elizabeth didn’t sit back and think, “Well, we’ll see what happens.” No, she most certainly did not. She praised the Lord for his blessings upon her and began preparing for her son to be born.
They were using their period of anticipation and waiting as a gift. As an exciting opportunity to prepare. They were active in their anticipation.
As a Christian, what do we anticipate?
We should prepare for His coming in the same way as the shepherds. In anticipation.
We should prepare for His blessings of abundance in the same way as Elizabeth. Not just wish or pray that he will provide a way to pay the bills the month, but anticipate that he WILL.
We should prepare for His promise of hope and future for our lives in the same way that Mary did when she got the news of her unwed pregnancy. In anticipation.
For there is more to come, something glorious ahead, something to look forward to with excitement. We should prepare and anticipate His goodness for our lives both now and forevermore, just as we do on New Year’s Eve, on Christmas Eve, on Thursdays.
“So you must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at any hour when you do not expect Him.” – Matthew 24:44
Are we running with anticipation to Bethlehem like the Shepherds? Let’s lace up.