- A feeling of excitement about something that is going to happen
- The act of preparing for something.
The subject matter of this study was prompted by a special friend, one who shares not one, but actually several specific things in which we both eagerly anticipate. I want to devote this study, not just in word and thought, but in spirit to that particular individual. 🙂
There is something wonderfully unique about those things we as individuals anticipate- as well as the anticipation itself.
Anticipation doesn’t just arrive on the scene, it has both a starting point and an eventual end in mind. It’s like a seed we plant in the ground, we know that in time and with the right kind and right amount of nurturing, that seed will result in the fulfillment of what we anticipate.
The things we anticipate have an origin, a purpose and a destination. Consider the story of Simeon and his prophesy found in Luke 2:25-32;
“And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking or the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said,
You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace,
According to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all people’s, A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, and the glory of Your people, Israel.”
Obviously in the story above, the origin of Simeon’s anticipation was God Himself. It was God who gave Him the promise which he anticipated fulfilling. The purpose of that promise was to herald the young child as the Messiah, not only the Savior of the Jews but also of the Gentiles too. It was a personal revelation- it was something only he (Simeon) was called to, it was something only he could fulfill.
Being a faithful Jew himself (described herein as a devout and righteous man), Simeon would have been looking for and anticipating his messiah. There is no doubt that Simeon would not have been able to differentiate between one child and another were it not for the Holy Spirit guiding him and instructing him. It is obvious that Simeon not only knew of the responsibilities he was given by God, but precisely when and how to carry the task out that he had been given. Oh if only this could be said of us and those things we also anticipate.
Anticipation overload (the result of weak or misguided faith)
At times we find ourselves anticipating things which are not in our best interest or in the will of God. Instead of anticipating what God has promised or things in which we can know are scripturally correct or permissible, we find ourselves fantasizing about what could be. This could include anything from an inappropriate relationship, an unhealthy pursuit of this worlds things or a fixation upon something we know is sinful or even dangerous. The evidence of such unhealthy and hurtful choices is found in three specific ways: an absence of faith, little to no specific guidance from God and a preoccupation with, and tendency to take matters into one’s own hands to bring about what one anticipates.
A right and righteous anticipation (the result of a strong faith in what God has promised)
Most if not all of the things we anticipate are personal desires as Christians or things which benefit another believer, the body of Christ as a whole or God Himself. These things are permissible in Him and include such things as:
- A desire for a mate
- A desire for a restored friendship/relationship
- A desire for the restoration of a sinning brother or sister
- A desire to witness the fruit of our labors/other Christians established
- A desire to see God’s body brought into unity
- A desire to witness the salvation of a soul(s)
- A desire to see local ekklesias established
- A desire to see Jesus return for His own
Take your pick, each of us as Christians has something on this list we anticipate, if not most or all of the above list.
Our responsibility in anticipation
We each find ourselves in varying daily circumstances and within those we carry with us what we anticipate. In many cases the very spiritual gifts God has given us relate directly to some of the above. Take one of the many instances where Paul the apostle was anticipating a return upon his labors:
…..through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake…..[Romans 1:5]
“I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented thus far) so that I may obtain some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles” [Romans 1:13] and some of his responsibilities:
“God is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you, always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you” [Romans 1:9, 10]
Note the anticipation of the fruit he desired to find in them- also note the anticipation within the anticipation: “I have planned to come to you” and “I may succeed in coming to you.” These statements are important for one simple reason. Just like Simeon above, it was not up to Paul in deciding the how and when he would be the instrument of God’s using or choosing. He could only “succeed” after God Himself opened the various doors that were before Him. So it was for Simeon, so it was for Paul, so it is for us too.
Anticipation = Longing for comfort, and ultimately perfection
Simeon above was looking for “the consolation of Israel,” He was anticipating the only One he knew who was capable of bringing what His people had always lacked- peace and comfort. Isn’t that the very same burden we have too, regardless of which of the many things we anticipate from the list above? Wouldn’t we also desire to live in peace, have comfort in our hurts and pains and extend that same comfort to other members of His body? I would certainly hope so.
As we noted prior, everything we anticipate has an origin, purpose and ultimate destination. We know as Christians that all of what we anticipate rightly stems from God. He is the Creator of all things, thus making us as individual souls, each a unique person through which He has instilled certain spiritual gifts. Those gifts have very specific purposes, some are for our own edification, most given for the sake of others and ALL to the glory of God to which both we and those gifts will someday return. This leaves God as the origin (Alpha) and destination or end (Omega) and our purpose now is left to the Spirit of God to reveal, empower and fulfill His work over time. (See: Luke 2:26, 1 Corinthians 2;10), (Romans 15:13, Ephesians 3;16), (John 14:26). Much like Simon and Paul, only after they “saw” the fulfillment of what they anticipated were they able to find lasting comfort and peace. This of course is not to say we cannot be comforted in trials per say, we most certainly can be and are, but there is another kind of peace that only results from finally obtaining what we have long anticipated. This verse explains it well: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life” [Proverbs 13:12]
According to Your Word/Which you have prepared
These two phrases in our opening verses in Luke should ring some bells for the average Christian. Do you know how many times similar statements like “according to Your word” are found in the Scriptures? Statements like “It is written” or “Thus says the Lord” etc. A whole bunch. And what is the significance of such a statement in these passages where these phrases are found? Doesn’t this speak to God’s overall sovereignty in man’s affairs? That the aim of God the Father’s instruments, whether that be Simeon, Paul, you or I or even Jesus Himself was to hear and obey in order to fulfill something?
The phrase “Which you have prepared” speaks much of the same thing. Isn’t this ultimately what we are called to live out before Him;
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, so that we would walk in them” [Ephesians 2:10] and even…
“For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the people’s of Israel, (meaning just about everybody) to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.” [Acts 4:27, 28]
Staying the course
Nearing the end of Paul’s earthly life he speaks these words;
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith….”
Obviously there was a very specific course in which Paul was supposed to run upon until “he finished that course.” Earlier in 1 Corinthians we find that Paul wasn’t just running around blindly but rather competed in this race in a very specific manner- he knew both what he was aiming for and the manner he must keep himself fit for the service God required of him. To not do the above could have easily led to him being disqualified altogether:
“Therefore I run in such away, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified” [1 Corinthians 10:26, 27]
Paul knew what God had called him to. It was given to him via revelation. All of us as Christians are gifted in specific ways as well. Those ways are the very things he desires to use in and through us with this qualification: WE MUST BE PREPARED for what GOD HAS PREPARED BEFOREHAND. It doesn’t matter how zealous one might be to realize any of the desires I’ve listed above. If they haven’t been adequately prepared the perfection God intends to bring about will not be realized.
It’s interesting to note that even Paul knew he couldn’t go it alone and that he needed help in realizing what he anticipated happening;
“For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine” [Romans 1:11, 12] and
“Yes, I will rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Christ Jesus, according to my earnest hope and expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death” [Philippians 1:19, 20]
The signposts along the way
In most instances when we’re driving, if we turn before or after our exit were going to get lost. We may likely get turned around eventually, but all sorts of resources have been wasted and this almost always disrupts what was a previous time schedule. Paying attention is crucial! Who hasn’t missed blessings or opportunities because we were not keeping alert? (Ephesians 6:18)(Colossians 4:2)(1 Peter 5:8) If we truly are prepared for the task or responsibility at hand, our Father will show the way and provide the resources. Our primary responsibility is to keep the goal in sight and continue to abide in the place and in the manner He has taught each of us.
After a little more thought, I suppose the signposts themselves become like little cheerleaders urging us on toward our desires, they become like the first fruits of what will eventually become reality. I suppose they also represent God’s very personal and intimate involvement in our concerns, for the fulfillment of such honors Him and brings about praise unto His name.
If perhaps, now
What real Christian doesn’t want to be used in His Father’s service? Their is no such a person- we all want to be used to bring glory to our Father.
I can’t speak for you, but there were more than a few times where I thought I knew what God was doing in my life specifically and was I wrong! Sometimes I learned this soon afterwards, at other times it took another decade before I saw the light. That’s a whole lot more running around than was necessary I assure you. Most of those mistakes in judgment were do to a reliance upon self-confidence or my own ingenuity which always opposes God’s own designs. It doesn’t matter what I’m anticipating if my desires do not square with Scripture and His will for my life.
I can honestly say that I have many if not all of the same desires I used to have, and still anticipate many of the same things I did 20 years ago. But this is not the same season, this is not the same race, not the same man running. In patience and perseverance have I found my way. In due time the season of “now” will be upon me.
No, this is not how you talk to your Father as you anticipate your desire. If for some reason you persisted with such foolishness, God may have given you a whole lot more than you bargained for. He loves you that much. Needless to say, the waiting will just start all over and last that much longer.
“Now Lord” is the jubilant exclamation of seeing with one’s eyes the literal fulfillment of what you anticipate. It is recognizing after many long seasons of faithful devotion, ongoing perseverance through trial and a continuous pursuit of taking heaven by storm in prayer, that Your Father really knows best after all. It is that which afterwards witnesses in real time God’s good, acceptable and perfect will for your life here on earth.
Now to Him
Without question our greatest anticipation is still yet to be realized. That when that very moment arrives, we see with our literal eyes the One with whom our sins have crucified. Just the thought arrests one thoughts and leaves one speechless, just as it will.
While waiting for our Lord’s precious return, He knows the plans He has for us and exactly how and when those will be brought to fulfillment. The desires we have are not a matter of simply enjoying life, though they are blessings, but more, they are part of the process of preparation both before and after the fulfillment of all we anticipate.
Our Father cries out to any who will listen, TRUST ME. I am more than all you need and desire. I AM YOUR EVERYTHING.
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power which works within us, to Him be the glory in the ekklesia and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” [Ephesians 3:20, 21]