A treasured friend recently reminded me that the Bible is brimming with moments of anticipation followed by celebration.
A quick glance at the Bible reveals that truth; God’s story is filled with countless people who expected Him to move in a mighty way.
While they waited, they wove hope and prayer into their daily tapestry, faithfully fulfilling the responsibilities in which God had entrusted them. Life unfolded with holy expectation waiting in the wings.
When God moved in His perfect timing, they partied hard.
I’ve pondered this cycle of anticipating, hoping, and celebrating for many weeks. This reflection forced me to ask honest questions:
- When was the last time I truly anticipated God’s deliverance?
- Do I truly believe my prayers tap into the same power that raised Jesus from the dead?
- Have I allowed cynicism to infiltrate my prayers and instead turn them into something formulaic and dull?
- Why am I allowing the monotonous rhythm of everyday living to drown out God’s invitation to celebrate?
- Do I not believe God is ready to move? And if He’s poised to make His move, is He remaining still because of my feeble ability to believe He can deliver?
Surely I’m not the only one who cringes with the results of that self-evaluation. Jesus makes it crystal clear in Matthew 7:7, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
On the flip side, there’s this sobering tidbit from James 4:3. He admonishes, “You do not have because you do not ask God.” James then details the kinds of requests we should bring to God: “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
Good and mighty things are on the horizon, friends. Expanding God’s Kingdom by loving people, serving people, and offering them Hope which never disappoints is always worth anticipating.
All we must do is get on our knees and believe that our party invitation has already been delivered.
For the next 12 months, I am anticipating God will blow us away with His provision. I’m praying God will show up in such obvious ways that the world can’t help but notice. I’m pleading for evil to be undone and flustered. And I’m imploring God to turn hardened hearts toward Him.
The anticipation I speak of is not about making more money or getting a better house or increasing in popularity. (However, if this is how God chooses to bless you, then it’s also fitting to be generous with that blessing.) Anticipation should always be about expecting God to open doors, expand our circles, and push us out of comfort zones and into His presence.
Here’s what I plan to do for the next year:
Look ahead and hang on to Hope. The hope I speak of is not wishful thinking (which is “hope”) but Hope (with a capital “H”). Write down 5 things you’d like to change about yourself, your family dynamic, or your community. Can’t think of 5? Start with one.
My list involves my church. Just this week we added members of a church across town to our congregation. That leaves us with the blessing of our current building, and the building of the former church. A majority in our county do not have an affiliation with a local congregation or a relationship with Christ. I doubt God’s plan for us includes cushier pews, more bells and whistles during the service, and more comforts for current attenders. However, I am certain it involves reaching those who don’t have a church home. What will this look like in 12 months? Where does God want to take us? How big is God’s dream for our community? What is God’s role for us individually? Let’s anticipate.
Do the work. Hoping does not mean going back to life as usual. It involves taking steps and checking in with God to make sure they’re the right steps. It’s about daily work which will move us from our good to God’s great. It’s about daily efforts so God can deliver the results. However, this is where anticipation gets tough. Things get uncomfortable. People get tired and irritated with each other. Sometimes, we may wonder if God will ever deliver.
One of my favorite scenes in the movie Facing the Giants involves the football coach struggling with his prayers. He’s asked God to move in the lives of his young players, but those prayers have seemingly gone unanswered.
His mentor tells him the story of two farmers who both needed rain and prayed for God to send rain. However, only one prepared his fields to receive it. The mentor said, “God will send rain when He’s ready; you need to prepare your field to receive it.”
Which farmer are you?
Plan the party. Our prayers and actions now will determine where we’ll be in one year. While we’re hoping, and working, we must also squeeze in party planning. God’s miracles shouldn’t be confined to a Sunday morning, only to be shared with members of our small group or Bible study partners. That’s a start, but it also must be proclaimed our neighbors across the street and around the world. And when the party dies down, what will we anticipate next?
Anticipate, work, hope, and party. This is the cycle of faithful living.
What are you waiting for?