I have concluded that snail mail is one of the lost joys of life. This year, my wife decided to write 365 letters to different people, intentionally seeking to bless them. She’s either delivering them by hand or…you guessed it…via the post office.
There’s something about anticipating a gift or a card that you know is being delivered to your doorstep. The cheap thrill of instant downloading doesn’t quite seem to capture this feeling.
Last week, I was waiting to receive two items in the mail. The first was my new driver’s license. I went through a lot to get that thing…I showed up at the DMV an hour before it opened. I endured condescension when I asked for clarification regarding part of the application. I even got sent home because, apparently, my social security card is not a valid form of identification in Oregon, but my passport is. After completing all of these steps, they took my picture and issued me a temporary ID. I would have to wait for my real license to be delivered.
The second thing I waited for was a new lap slide guitar, also known as a dobro. It’s played with a piece of steel you slide across the strings, and it sounds beautiful. The Chasing Ebenezer Band is hoping to record soon, and I want to use a quality guitar to get the job done.
Now here is the question: Which item was I anticipating, and which item did I simply have to wait for? There is a difference between anticipation and simply waiting for something to happen. Anticipation involves a sense of excitement. It is an active form of waiting during which one shapes their life around the anticipated event. Waiting that doesn’t involve anticipation carries the sense of a passive indifference. No preparations are made for the event/object’s arrival. There is no watchfulness. Life goes on as if nothing significant is going to happen.
Obviously, I was anticipating the arrival of my new guitar. It was something that would bring me joy. It was a birthday gift from my wife, given in love. Although the salesman said it could arrive as quickly as five but as late as eight days, I kept checking the front door in case it came early. I didn’t want it left out in the rain or worse yet…stolen off the doorstep. And even though I wanted it to arrive early, there was a deep pleasure I derived in the expectancy of waiting.
On the other hand, I was rather indifferent towards the pending delivery of my driver’s license. When it gets here, it gets here. It wasn’t a gift; it was an obligation. A hoop I needed to jump through to stay out of trouble with the law. I was aware that it was on its way, but it really had no impact on my life.
As we enter into the Easter season, I wonder if we’re anticipating the return of Christ or simply waiting for it? I think it depends on how we view His death, burial and resurrection. Do we view it as a gift or as a legal obligation that keeps us out of trouble. If we simply view it as a necessary step, our disposition will be, “He’ll get here when He gets here.” We may be aware that He is coming soon, but that reality may have little to no impact on our life.
What if we viewed Christ’s return as a gift? What if it brought us joy?
I have to confess that I have viewed the death of Christ as something to keep me out of hell. But I have failed to recognize that the resurrection is a foreshadowing of what will happen to me.
When Christ returns, I will be healed. Not just in the obvious places I can think of but in places that I don’t even know are broken. I will be in perfect relationship with God and with others. I will be reunited with family members. My body won’t be limited by time and space; it will be like Christ’s. These are things to look forward to. The question is whether or not I anticipate this.
Christ came to heal us. He came to destroy the works of the devil. The problem is that brokenness is our normal, and we can’t imagine something different. Think about your broken relationships, your lost loved ones, those insecurities and sins that are the backdrop of your life. Now imagine all of those things being brought to a place of limitless perfection. That is a gift to be anticipated!
As we celebrate the resurrection of Christ what do you most anticipate Him restoring?
*Ben Pasley’s book “Elementary” has an excellent chapter on the resurrection. I’d highly recommend it.