“The thrill of Hope, a weary world rejoices” the all-too familiar carol lilting out on the radio. I say “all-too familiar” because sometimes familiarity breeds contempt. I often miss the big picture with things that are right under my nose or staring me directly in the eyes. Yesterday, those words seem to hang in the air.
Anticipation. Waiting. Being in the limbo.
These are feelings I’ve seemed to connect with a lot lately. In this moment, with those words dancing in my head, I started wondering. The Thrill of Hope. Is there thrill in the hope of something to come? Or have I ceased to allow anticipation to ride on the same thread that I experience wondering and waiting? Have I made the unknown so scary in my mind that I don’t consider the fact that it could bring JOY?
I’ve told more than one friend that my default setting is definitely FEAR. If it’s potentially exciting…I get scared. If it’s potentially hard…I get nauseous. If I’m unsure of the outcome, I’m fearful. Jesus is working hard to recalibrate and change my default setting…but it’s a process of renewing my mind and TRUSTING Him.
Anticipation. I wonder what the emotions were for young Mary as she waited on the birth of her Son and Savior? Was there any fear? Excitement? Worry? Curiosity? How about anticipation?
There is wonder in waiting.
Yesterday I read Psalm 37 and the words of truth resonated in my heart: “Trust in the Lord and do what is good; dwell in the land and live securely. Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act, making your righteousness shine like the dawn, and your justice like the noonday. Be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for Him; do not be agitated by the one who prospers in his way, by the man who carries out evil plans.” (verses 3-7, HCSB)
The word EXPECTANTLY hit me between the eyes. There can be hope in Anticipation. It can be a good thing. To look full into the face of change with hope and joyful anticipation. Maybe I’m the only one who looks at change as a bad thing…but I tend to fear change instead of welcoming it with open arms as I would a good friend. Let’s face it, change is sent by God to mold us into His image. Why wouldn’t I want to give Change a hand shake and a seat at my table? Embracing change is a sign of maturity. Apparently, I’m not there yet.
If I’m honest, I live like the verse reads very differently: “Be scared-to-death before the Lord and wait in freak-out mode for Him” because that’s what I do. I seem to often think negative. As if Jesus is out to ruin my life. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Yesterday I sat at a coffee shop table and argued with God for a while. I just couldn’t calm my fearful soul. Then in a moment, Jesus gave me a word picture: I saw the eyes of a child during this time of year. The wonder. The lights, the decorations, the wrapped presents under the tree, the special Christmas cookies and the music. I’ve never once seen a child who is afraid of what is beneath the wrapping paper…they are excited and full of hope. They can’t wait to see what’s inside. The wonder and expectation.
I realize I’m looking at this all wrong. I can see myself sitting and Jesus stands in front of me with a wrapped gift extended in His pierced hands. It’s beautiful and sparkly and I see the look of complete delight on His face. He is thrilled to give this to me. Then I see my face: frightened beyond all definition and my hands are trembling as a take it from His hands. Something just doesn’t set well.
This word picture stuns me. Am I really responding to Jesus like this? As if He doesn’t know what I need. The things I’m fearing? The change I’m afraid of? He knows. He understands me better than I understand myself. He has my good and His glory in mind. This wrapped gift is full of unknown possibilities for me. The good and the bad wrapped together, but it’s a change that I need to receive with hopeful expectation.
What if I received this unknown gift with wonder in my eyes? Knowing full-well that He does all things well and will walk this road with me…unwrapping this gift along the way. I want to be a child again, jumping up and down with glee at the thought of what He has in store for me.
Yes, there is wonder in the waiting. We serve a God of mystery, and with each paper-covered present, we have the opportunity to unwrap part of His character that we may otherwise not know. That sounds exciting to me!
Today I decided that I want to wait expectantly for Jesus. The thrill of hope. He has great plans for me. He gives good gifts. I want to have wonder in the waiting.