Anticipating & Expecting vs. Merely Attempting

December 5, 2012

Christmas / Advent

IMG_0021It was the beginning of the second half for game six of the 2012 Western Conference Finals and the capacity crowd at Chesapeake Arena was full of anticipation. To this point in my life, it has to be the most amazing sporting event that I’ve ever had the privilege of attending in person. Though the Oklahoma City Thunder had trailed the Spurs by as much as 18 points in the first half, there was an excitement in the air. Even way up high were I was sitting, the hopeful anxiousness was almost thick enough to cut.  It defied logic as we were still down 15 points to a very good San Antonio team. Yet, every fan there knew what the Thunder was capable of doing as they had seen them come back from behind before to produce victories. And somehow, we knew this night would be no different. IMG_0010With every OKC basket, the joyous anticipation grew and total strangers high fived and hugged each other like life long best friends.

Anticipation and its effect upon our lives is a powerful phenomenon.  Just ask any newly engaged couple as they plan their wedding.  Or  volunteer to help someone pregnant with their first child to prepare and paint the room for their new baby.  Or notice children as they try to sleep the night before Christmas. All three scenarios are laced with anticipation and expectation.

But sometimes the realities of life hit and smack us hard and in our despair we forget the power of the possible.

A few years ago, I was convicted through a Facebook tagline. Did you know God could convict you through a Facebook post?  I didn’t either until that day. Amitava, a friend who is a minister and leader in India had an old William Carey quote for his FB tagline.  It’s a simple phrase that I learned years before. But that day, it struck me powerfully. It simply read, “ATTEMPT Great things FOR God, EXPECT great things FROM God.” As I read those words, it hit me that while I was still “attempting” a number of things, I was no longer “expecting”. Whether it was because of past disappointments, fears, or due to the fact that I was living in challenging part of the world at the time, I honestly don’t know. But the raw truth was that while I hadn’t given up trying some things and projects for God’s kingdom, somewhere along the way I was on longer expecting HIM to do the impossible. The work I was doing was mainly through my own feeble efforts. I still longed and desired for God to do more but  I was working and  living without the anticipation and expectation that He might actually do it. I confessed then that I didn’t want to live like that anymore.  In fact, I’ve never wanted to live like that.  I honestly don’t enjoy living a life without hopeful expectation or anticipation. Nor, do I don’t believe that were made to live that way either. Yet, I’m afraid that too often many of us just barely tread water and survive but never really thrive when God made us for so much more.

This week begins the season of Advent.  It’s a time and season of preparation and anticipation.  As we march towards Christmas we anticipate that God is about to do something new in the world and in our lives.  It’s a season filled with possibilities and anticipation of what can be when God breaks into the world and into the reality of our own lives.

Do you still expect God to work regularly in the situations that your are facing?  Are you doing things merely in your own power  and strength but no longer anticipating something more?

Perhaps it seems like it’s already past half time and that the score is way behind.  Don’t get discouraged. “Do NOT FEAR!”  It’s time once again to get on the edge of your seat with anticipation.  ONE greater than any basketball player  is about to arrive on the scene.  One who has a long salvation history of specializing in acts of grace, dishing out assists right when they’re needed the most, and helping His people overcome second half deficits.

Today is a good time to place your cares and concerns in the caring hands of our Lord and ask him to restore in you a childlike sense of awe, wonder and anticipation of what only HE can do.

O Come, O Come Emmannuel!

Lord prepare me this season to be a vessel that you can use.  Help me not just to do and attempt a few things but show me what it means to live in expectation and anticipation of what you want to do in and through me.

What is the root cause(s) of the lack of anticipation and expectation in your life? What steps can you take to begin to get back in your Godly groove with a healthy dose of anticipation in your life and ministry?

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