I spend a lot of my time and energy anticipating future needs. Mine, and those of other people.
I anticipate the needs of my kids: That one is starting to whine and look kind of puny–better fix a snack before she has a meltdown. His jeans are getting too short, again; better order some, because he will outgrow them in his sleep, AGAIN. They should go to bed now or we will have a difficult morning. Make sure everybody pees now, or somebody will have to go behind a tree when we get to the park. Etc.
I also anticipate the needs of my church. In ministry, it helps to have the gift of foresight. You plan Advent and Christmas in the fall; you plan Lent and Easter in the dead of winter; you start thinking about Vacation Bible School and church camp somewhere around Labor Day of the year before. You’re always thinking about who needs to be in learning now to serve in leadership later. And you are always thinking long-term about fiscal sustainability, mission focus, and, really, how long is that roof going to last in this weather?
Trouble is, sometimes there’s a fine line between foresight and anxiety. Some of it is just my personality; I’m wired for racing thoughts, wild imagination, and a constant cascade of words swirling through my brain at any given moment. That energy–and the ability to hold onto a big picture kind of vision at all times– can make me effective as both a parent and a leader.
But also, it can be exhausting.
The season of Advent is a time of intentional anticipation; of looking ahead to the new ways that God’s love might be born among us. It is a time to celebrate the surprising nature of faith–to expect the unexpected, and take joy in the unknown.
What I know from other seasons of my life is that anticipating the unknown is an important practice, both practically and spiritually. It is also a practice that can spin off into other, less desirable dimensions– like anxiety and fatigue.
So I captured this perfect moment–my 6-year-old son, with his little butt parked at the window, waiting for his friend to arrive. Here is a perfect posture of anticipation–a waiting that is full of joy and nothing to fear; a certainty that a loved one will arrive, that fun will be had, that connection will be made, and that all will be well. Because why wouldn’t it be?
I’m holding onto this picture–not just on my phone, but in my mind and heart this season. Let it be a reminder to me–and maybe to you–that we are called to this particular posture of anticipation… Not to project a desired outcome; not to work ourselves into a lather to create or prevent some future scenario; not to wander into a wilderness of “what ifs,” and “somedays” and worst case scenarios–as if our anticipating a certain sadness or disaster might negate its possibility. Rather, we wait in the spirit of the open window; the way of wide open possibility; the path of “why not?” and “someone is coming.”
Because someone is coming.