Prayerfully Expectant

My special guest this afternoon was Brently Owen, the youngest of my grandsons, who will turn three on March 3rd. He had to be awakened from a nap and separated from his cousins, Sarah and Natalie, because they had an appointment with the Pediatrician. Bo, as we call him, was not happy and cried for quite awhile as we sat and rocked. As he cried I talked; telling him that he was safe and loved and that his mommy would pick him up as soon as she could.

After about 15 minutes the tears and pitiful little sobs came to an end. In silence we continued to rock and I expected Bo to go to sleep as he was very still and seemed to have his eyes closed. It’s wonderful to hold a child and think about all the promise and hope that life represents.

All morning my thoughts had been focused on Luke’s account of Mary and Joseph presenting Jesus at the Temple (Luke 2:21-40). These verses feature two of my favorite characters in the Christmas story: Simeon and Anna.

As I rocked Bo, I wondered what it must have been like for Simeon to catch a glimpse of a baby, and through the revelation of the Holy Spirit, instantly know this is the long awaited Messiah! Can we even begin to imagine the emotions Simeon must’ve experienced?

We don’t know if Joseph and Mary hesitated when Simeon reached out to take the baby in his arms, but we can hear the excitement in the words Luke records for us as this respected, righteous and devout man praises God. He recognizes the baby as the promised, anticipated salvation; a God-revealing Light for all people. He holds a child and understands potential.

We don’t know if Simeon spoke in hushed tones or in a loud voice; there is no record of people crowding around but we do know that Anna, when she showed up, started singing praise to God! That would be hard to ignore.

Imagine Joseph and Mary – they’ve already had angel visitors – taking this all in; wondering, believing, hoping, trusting, fearing . . .

Bo didn’t go to sleep and soon we were on the floor playing and laughing but part of my mind was still wondering about Simeon and Anna.

I want Bo, and all my grandchildren, to grow up knowing adults, including me, who are living in “prayerful expectancy” of Jesus. He has come to bring us salvation; His rule and authority in our lives should show in every detail. Our faithfulness and worship of the one and only God and our anticipation of His return should be obvious to all.

This Christmas I pray that we would be prayerfully expectant. Christ has come. The promise is fulfilled. The hope of the nations and all people is the God-revealing Light for the whole world.

Opening the Box

An electric race car set! We found it at Sears and it was all my brother and I wanted for Christmas. Our parents made us agree to a long list of conditions but ultimately bought the large, colorful box containing race cars and track. Up to that point, in 1967, it was the most expensive gift they ever purchased.

There was no hiding it. I remember the box sitting on the back seat between me and Mark because the trunk of the Chevy Bel Air sedan was packed with groceries for the next two weeks. We lived in a very small two bedroom apartment next to the school where Dad & Mom taught on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota. Bismarck was the closest major city and we made the 250 mile round trip about every two weeks.

They made us wait until Christmas to actually open the box! There it was, under the tree, no gift wrapping. We studied the pictures, read everything printed on the outside of the box, made plans, and anxiously dreamed about what we would do on Christmas morning. There were multiple track layouts and we argued about which design to build first. The anticipation was so intense I can still remember when, after all the other gifts were opened, we were finally allowed to begin set-up. That race car set provided hours and hours of delight!

Now, forty-three years later, I wonder what life would’ve been like if we would’ve never opened the box? What if all we did was look at the outside and dream and make plans? What if we never snapped the track together and plugged in the transformer? What if all we ever did was study the outside of the box?

That’s how many people treat the greatest Gift of all. Jesus, God’s gift of His one and only Son, is a box we admire, maybe even read about, but fail to fully embrace, fail to enter into that eternally significant relationship.

Opening the Father’s present to us is daunting; it requires repentance, risk, and a re-ordering of priorities. The result is life-changing but the alternative is unthinkable because we miss all our Creator intends for us.

This Christmas, don’t let all the distractions keep you from experiencing the greatest Gift of all.