Anticipation

Anticipation...The good kind of waiting. The kind fraught with expectation, with hope. That’s the kind of waiting Simeon had done, all his life, right into old age. Waiting for the promised deliverance of Israel, for the wrong to be made right, for the Messiah’s appearing. Simeon was old; his wait had been long. But his anticipation was fresh. His heart tuned to the prompting of the Spirit. His mind set on God’s personal promise that he would not die without seeing God’s Messiah.

So Simeon comes to the temple that morning, wooed by the Holy Spirit, full of anticipation of God’s revelation. And there he is, a tiny child wrapped in his peasant mother’s arms. And Simeon knows. This is the Promise! This is what he has been waiting for.

And then he knows this is so much more. More than he ever hoped for. More than he could possibly have anticipated. More than he could have imagined. Taking the baby from his startled mother, Simeon, overcome with the joy of fulfilled anticipation, offers his praise to God. Listen to Simeon’s prayer:

“Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace,
According to Your word;  For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared before the face of all peoples;                A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,  And the glory of Your people Israel.”

In the tiny face of newborn Jesus, Simeon sees the light of the world! Not just the restoration of Israel, nor merely the fulfillment of God’s personal promise to him, but also the revelation of God’s plan to redeem all mankind. The Gentiles! Who could have thought? Who would have imagined? Simeon, a devout Jew, surely never would have. But Simeon a holy, God-seeking Jew, now rejoices, that Jesus is the Provision, not only for Israel, but indeed for the whole world! It is as if God has been whispering, “Wait for it….wait for it….” all his life, and Simeon has been doing just that. But when God’s plan unfolds, it’s so far beyond anything Simeon could have even set his hope upon!

Isn’t that just the way Grace unfolds?  It’s just the way God loves to work. We pray big. He plans bigger. We anticipate with fragile hope. He prepares beyond our wildest dreams. Paul refers to this when he talks of Jesus as the one who “is able to do abundantly above all that we could ask or imagine.” Yes! The same Jesus that Simeon had hung his hopes on for decades, and had finally held in his arms, is the Jesus who is working in our lives, working in our world, working to build His Kingdom.

So in these final days of the advent season, anticipate with ardor, with relentless hope, with undying expectation. Because just as He came once, He is coming again. And it’s going to be beyond anything we could dream up!


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