The Greatest Anticipation
By Daphne Delay
The Christmas Song is one of my most favorite carols of all time. "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose. Yuletide carols being sung by a choir, and folks dressed up like eskimos..." Like the song, I was once one of those "tiny tots" who couldn't wait to see what Santa had brought me. My little heart was so excited I could barely sleep...
Decades later, I am older and wiser now. And I realize Christmas is so much more than I understood as a child. But I'm still very fond of The Christmas Song because it reminds me of a different anticipation. One of the verses says, "Every mother's child is going to spy to see if reindeer really know how to fly." The song lyrics bear witness with so many today because children are told the story of Santa Claus and his flying reindeer multiple times during the holidays. It builds their expectation.
But imagine what it must have been like hundreds of years ago when every mother's child was told a story that carried as much (if not more) anticipation. Instead of Twas the Night Before Christmas, parents would sit their children down around the fire and read to them from the Book of Isaiah: "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this." (Isaiah 9:6-7)
Children were told about the coming Messiah, their Deliverer. In fact, they even had regular times of worship to keep them in remembrance of this very special promise. I imagine these feasts were also meant to keep the anticipation up. But year after year, there was no Messiah... The people still watched and waited for Him, but most likely, it was hard to keep the faith (much less the anticipation) day after day, only to wake up to... nothing. Centuries later, even John the Baptist hesitantly asked the Lord, "Are you the Coming One? Or do we look for another?" (Matthew 11:3)
As humans we understand diminished excitement, so it's no wonder the shepherds were surprised when a multitude of angels appeared to them out of the blue one night. "Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.' And suddenly there was with the angel a MULTITUDE of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!'" (Luke 2:8-14)
When we read this story, we often only envision it from a human perspective. But Heaven had also been in great anticipation of God fulfilling His promise. Patiently, they too had waited... and prepared. But have you ever thought about the announcement to the shepherds? It was a BIG show for a small group! The announcement that the Messiah was finally here didn't really need all of Heaven - one angel could deliver the message.
I can almost picture the excitement in Heaven as word got out that God was sending a messenger to tell the people their Messiah had come. They had anticipated this day for centuries! I imagine one angel asked if he could tag along to see... then another angel asked.. then another and another... Who knows if God didn't just tell them, "Anyone who wants to go may go!" Heaven must have emptied! Their anticipation was so great not one of them wanted to miss this event!
Oh, if only Earth had known what was coming!
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow, would've found it hard to sleep that night. They'd know that Jesus was on His way. In fact, I expect every mother's child would probably have spied to see if angels really knew how to fly!
Oh yes, if only earth had know what had been given to them. Oh the anticipation, the expectation, the high hopes and the joy would've been shared by Heaven and Earth alike! "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" (John 3:16)
With great anticipation, children still awake on Christmas Day to find out what gifts they've received. And as Christians, that's how we should be... like children in anticipation! Just because Jesus has already come doesn't mean the anticipation should stop. Jesus is the gift that keeps on giving! Remember when He told the woman at the well, "If you [only] knew the gift of God..." (John 4:10)
I pray we'd all be child-like again in our anticipation. This season, and every day for that matter, we should be as excited about Jesus as the angels were. "Oh, thanks be to God for His Gift, [His precious, indescribable, inexpressible, free Gift]!" (2 Corinthians 9:15)
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Daphne Delay is the founder of Mirror Ministries in Seminole, Texas. She is the author of Facing the Mirror: Finding a Self to Live With. Daphne has written over 200 articles for subscribers to Mirror Ministries and other publications, and she blogs nuggets of spiritual growth encouragement every week. Daphne is the wife of a senior pastor and the mother of three. www.mirrorministries.org
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