Remember when you were a child how it seemed as if Christmas would NEVER come? Oh the days and weeks and months were so long! When my siblings and I were growing up, Christmas was really the only time during the year when we got toys. Oh maybe a little something on birthdays, but Christmas was it! It was an ironclad rule at our house that we put up our tree (a real one in the early days) two weeks before Christmas and not one day earlier. My father grew up in a household where the Christmas tree went up on Christmas Eve, so he thought two weeks was a generous compromise. I loved the night we went to pick out a tree and brought it home to decorate. And then we had to wait two weeks. Oh how those two weeks drug on! Now two weeks before Christmas goes by in the blink of an eye.
Those were days of waiting.
When I was a child my father worked for Western Auto. During the Christmas season the Western Auto stores carried toys and put out a Christmas catalogue just full of things to delight children. Oh how we would pour over that catalogue, circling our favorite toys. Days of dreaming and waiting, wishing and hoping. There was so much hoping as a child at Christmas. By Christmas Eve the waiting would be at a fever pitch, making sleep so difficult. But finally the waiting would come to an end, and Christmas morning would be filled with shrieks of joy and the sound of paper ripping.
Of course those toys are long gone now. I barely even remember them except for a few: a Western Flyer bicycle, a Toni doll, and later, a bride doll. They brought me joy, but only for a short time.
This morning in my quiet time I was reading about two elderly people who waited their entire lives for Christmas, Simeon and Anna. They are two examples to us of how to wait with godly expectation. And for me as I am well into my senior years, they serve as an example that God has a purpose and plan for us in every stage of life. In fact, the Bible tells us in Psalm 139 that God has a pre-ordained plan for us written in a book, and that every day of our lives has a purpose. We have a day to be born and a day to die, and the days in between are days of God’s intention for us. When we are in tune with God, spending time in His word and in prayer, He reveals these intentions to us. Simeon believed that he would see the Messiah before he died because He spent time with God. We are told in the Gospel of Luke that the Holy Spirit assured him of this. But well into his advance years, did he ever doubt? Some of us wait a long time, even a lifetime for our prayers to be answered. Anna was married for only seven years before she became a widow. I’m sure that was not the life she expected. She could have been angry with God, but instead she devoted the rest of her 84 years to serving in the temple, worshipping and fasting. She too got to see the baby Jesus.
Today at the close of 2020, I am waiting for some BIG things. I wait for God to send another Great Awakening to America, that we can once again be a nation that fears and honors God, and that we will fulfill our destiny of spreading the Gospel to the ends of the earth. And I also wait for Jesus to come and rapture His church. I too want to see Him face-to-face. I wait to be reunited with loved ones who have passed on ahead of me. I long for the Millennial reign of Christ on earth, to see this world as it was intended to be. And I look forward to the wedding supper of the Lamb, and the new heaven and earth. I can wait like Simeon, with certain expectancy, because God has promised these things in His word. I am reminded of the words of John Wesley in the Christmas song, Come Thou Long Expected Jesus:
Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
As believers we wait for the Hope of all the earth…Jesus. He is the desire (and the need) of every nation and the joy of every longing heart. It is a joy that cannot be found wrapped in pretty paper under the Christmas tree. That kind of joy doesn’t last. But the joy that Jesus brings lasts forever. My Christmas wish for everyone is that they discover this long expected Jesus for themselves.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 NIV