“Raise your hand if you’re so excited about Christmas!”
That was my five-year-old son on repeat in the weeks before Christmas day. He asked us often and he expected a response every time. Everyone in the vicinity had to raise a hand quickly and high enough to be seen. Either that, or the offending non-responder would be quizzed stringently.
Aren’t you excited for Christmas? Why didn’t you raise hand? Are you not really excited?
During our Christmas Eve service, he started to fall asleep a bit ( so much excitement can wear a fellow out), so I picked him up and cradled him in my lap during the pastor’s message. We made it almost to the end when my son sat straight up, no longer tired, and said in not quite a whisper: “Raise your hand if you’re so excited about Christmas!”
Every one of us in the pew raised our hands just a teeny bit, not high enough for anyone else in the church to see, but enough so he wouldn’t launch into the full-scale interrogation.
After Christmas, he kept the excitement going. He enjoyed every bit of Christmas break. Then I explained our New Year’s Eve plans and how our family usually has family game night, eats special snacks and watches funny videos on TV.
The first thing he asked as he rubbed sleep out of his eyes at 7:30 a.m. on December 31st was if it was time yet for the game playing and the snack eating and the funny video watching.
He was ready. Ready all day. He quizzed me at 10 a.m. and again at noon and then afternoon right up until we (finally) started celebrating.
During the Christmas season, I felt a continual nudging as I read each part of the story: am I living with expectation?
The wise men were searching the night sky. They were actively looking, digging deep into ancient Scriptures, studying promises, watching for their fulfillment. Then, at the first sign of God on the move, they chose active obedience and pursuit. They left behind the familiar, they traveled far from home, because they wanted to see what God was doing.
Simeon and Anna both knew the Messiah was coming. They had been promised and assured of his imminence. With profound expectation, they lingered in the temple courts, hoping for the day they would see the Savior with their own eyes. And they did. God did what He said He would do.
Am I this excited? Am I expectant?
I’m not really. Not as excited as my son, and not as expectant as the wise men, or Simeon, or Anna. I’m not watchful or hopeful of seeing the goodness God is doing.
Maybe you’ve started this new year with just that high level of expectation and excitement. Or, maybe you’re more like me, limping in slowly, timidly, a little worn out from the hard season you’ve just walked through–hoping (but not certain) that the most difficult steps are finally in the past.
Maybe you’ve been waiting and there’s more waiting to be done.
I read this today:
Now the people were waiting expectantly, and all of them were questioning in their hearts whether John might be the Messiah (Luke 3:6 CSB).
Can we all be expectant?
It wasn’t just the Christmas characters who lived with anticipation of the Messiah; it was a general buzz of anticipation. Crowds lined the riverfront to see John the Baptist because they “were waiting expectantly,” on the lookout for a Savior.
And one day, they stood along that riverbank and watched as Jesus Himself stepped out of the crowd and into the water to be baptized.
They were seeking and because they were seeking, they found the Lord Himself.
So, what am I seeking?
I’m not seeking answers or direction. I’m not seeking next steps or a Promised Land or a bright future.
This is what Scripture says:
You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13)
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you (Matthew 6:33).
I can raise my hand because I’m so excited to see Jesus. Even the worn-out me who is tempted to hide away can instead be stirred up with eager expectation because I want to see the Lord and to see God’s kingdom at work in the here and now. I’m so excited to catch glimpses of His glory this year, knowing that He is present and He is powerful.
He is a Good God. And He is doing Good things.