There is something nice about looking forward to an event or meeting. Sometimes anticipation is half the fun. Looking forward to things tends to brighten our life.
An elderly lady once told me with delight that her grandchildren would be visiting her in several weeks. Expectation of that visit was a source of joy to her. Another elderly lady invited me for morning tea and set the date two weeks in advance. She explained to me that it gave her something to look forward to.
Children almost get exhausted with anticipation of Christmas or a party or some fun activity. They can exhaust those around them with their constant talk and expectation.
Anticipation is linked to ‘Hope’ and hope is a key spiritual reality, listed alongside Faith and Love.
“Three things have abiding presence: faith, hope and love.” 1Corinthians 13:13
Faith, Hope and Love have the ability to sustain us. They can prop us up when we are flagging. Faith reminds us to trust God. Love comforts our hearts. And Hope fires us with Sweet Anticipation.
Looking forward to something coming is often a daily experience. The Bible speaks of those who look forward to their rest and sleep, and those who can’t sleep looking forward to the dawn. It speaks of watchmen who keenly wait for the new day, to be relieved of duty.
It is not uncommon to hear someone say, “I get to go home in two hours”. Or you might hear, “Only three days to go!” Or “It’s on Tonight!”
People might say, “I have the tickets in my pocket”, “I’m all packed”, “We’re heading in early to beat the crowd” and many similar comments that reflect anticipation and pre-planning for things looked forward to.
For the Christian there is a great deal to feel Sweet Anticipation about. Since we are forgiven of our sins and adopted as God’s children, we are heading from this life into eternal glories that are beyond description. What we know of Heaven is just an inkling of what is in store for us, since our human limitations block any true appreciation for things so transcendent. One of the common descriptions of Heaven from those who died and came back to life, is that things in Heaven are much more delightful than any equivalent thing on earth and so are basically ‘indescribable’.
What we do know is that we will be in the glorious presence of the most majestic being in the universe, God Almighty, our Father. We will be enriched at a much deeper level than physical experience can allow. So all those delights and comforts our body and emotions can enjoy on earth are lame compared to experiencing the radiance of God’s majesty in Heaven.
So we have good reason to be filled with Sweet Anticipation every time we think of heaven and our future time in God’s presence for eternity.
Back in the year 1900 hymn writer Charles Gabriel gave us the lovely hymn “Oh That Will Be Glory For Me”, celebrating our Sweet Anticipation.
Just to be near the dear Lord I adore,
Will through the ages be glory for me.
Oh, that will be glory for me, Glory for me, glory for me.
When by His grace I shall look on His face,
That will be glory, be glory for me.
How good will it be? The Bible tells us what God has for us is better than anything we have heard about or seen, or even imagined.
“Eyes have not seen, nor ears heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man the things God has prepared for those who love him.” 1Corinthians 2:9
Many people don’t stop to enjoy their Sweet Anticipation. They are too distracted with anticipating earthly things and can even think those things, which will be enjoyed for only a transitory moment, deserve more of their time and attention than eternal things.
Those struggling against the frustrations of life, such as limited health, weakness and hopeless conditions, find great encouragement from Sweet Anticipation of heavenly things.
Christians among African slaves of a few centuries ago celebrated their Sweet Anticipation with songs like, “Golden Slippers” and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot!”
And Christians in Bible times looked forward to joys waiting after this life is over. Those joys are our ‘hope’.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. So now there is waiting for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me at that day: and not to me only, but also to all those that love his appearing.” 2Timothy 4:7,8
“Hope is laid up for you in heaven, which you already heard about in the word of the truth of the gospel” Colossians 1:5
Friends, Hope sustains you, and it is in you a Sweet Anticipation of things already prepared for you, that so outshine all things of this life that chasing this world’s trinkets is a child’s distraction. May your heart be awakened to the greater wonders waiting for you, and may you live this life with your eye on heaven, not on temporary earthly vanities. And may you serve the Lord with all your might, building His Kingdom as you press forward in Sweet Anticipation.