The 4th of July rivals Christmas for the favorite holiday in our house. It’s been my husband’s favorite, hands down, for a long time. In fact, it’s how he remembers the date of our anniversary. In his words, “We got married the last day of the month when I get to blow things up!”
As of this year, I’m pretty sure our son is following hard in his dad’s footsteps. It’s the first year the loud noises didn’t overwhelm him at some point. He’s determined Screaming Eagles are his favorite fireworks to set off. And he played with sparklers, snaps, and other mostly safe fireworks all day to his heart’s content.
After hours of shooting off our own fireworks, it was time for the city’s fireworks show. My son sat down with his cousins on the street to watch. He watched in awe and couldn’t contain his joy during the grand finale. He jumped up and down, squealing with delight. At one point he sighed contentedly, deeply, and said, “I’ve been waiting for this moment for an entire YEAR!” Yep. He’s hooked.
Anticipation in Life
Anticipation is powerful. I remember waiting for things for an entire year. Christmas. Family reunions. Birthdays. Spring break. In fact, anticipation is at least half of the enjoyment, maybe more!
Anticipation offers expectation and hope. Even when days are long and weeks trudge by, anticipation lifts your eyes from what’s in front of you to what is coming. The anticipation of moving, starting a new job, getting married, having a baby, all bring joy that fuels the actual work those things take.
Anticipation isn’t just for big life events either. Anticipation changes the shape of the week when you look forward to a family fun night, time spent in community, or a simple break from the mundane. It can motivate you to work hard, wake up early, or tackle an imposing task in order to make time for something fulfilling.
Anticipation and Your Walk with Jesus
Anticipation can play a similar role in your walk with Jesus. Too often, this relationship becomes stale, predictable, and duty-filled. But that’s not what God intends. Scripture uses words like abundant, full, overflowing, filled with joy, and whole to describe our life with God.
Even if you are reading your Bible and praying regularly, would you say you’re enjoying it? Looking forward to the time with anticipation? Now, not every activity (in life or with Jesu) can or should be prepared on the pinnacle of expectation. That would be exhausting, and, frankly, impossible.
But it is good to infuse our weeks, months, and years with the anticipation of spending time with Jesus in ways that are life-giving, renewing, and unique from the day to day. These times can be a powerful tool to help us interact with Jesus differently and anticipate the time and space for our souls to breathe.
They become the rhythms of our lives that ground us and enable us to sigh contentedly, deeply, and say, “I’ve been waiting for this moment for an entire YEAR (or week, or month)!”
Practical Weekly Ideas
Sabbath is one of the favorite parts of my week. To say I look forward to it might be an understatement! It’s a time when I can say no to demands, work, and responsibilities that never cease and say yes to what gives me life. Sabbath causes me to depend on God differently. I lay aside self and trust him to accomplish what I never can. And, yes, I do often audibly sigh as I enter into Sabbath and think, “Whew! I made it through another week. Now I can rest.” (Read this 5-part series to get ideas and tips to help you better understand and practice Sabbath. You’ll also find FREE printables and helps!)
Get Away for 1-2 Hours
With just a little bit of planning, you can make this happen. Choose a consistent time each week where you can step out of whatever responsibilities you have and interact with Jesus in a way you don’t typically have time for. What you choose to do will be different based on your personality. And might even be different from week to week based on what you need. You could journal, prayer walk, sit in silence, or dig into a passage of Scripture. Choose something that you will look forward to with anticipation during the week!
Practical Monthly Ideas
Spend Time in Community
Depending on how you are wired, sharing what God is teaching you with someone else or encouraging others with Scripture might excite you. Articulating truths and personal experience might help you draw near to Jesus and rejoice in what he is doing in your life that you might not have taken time to consider. Just remember to arrange this time so that it enables you to interact differently with Jesus and grow in your relationship with him in some way.
Take an Afternoon or Day Away
This might sound like a luxury to you. And it might tempt you to fill it with all kinds of errands or tasks or self-fulfilling activities. But what if, instead, you took an afternoon or day to spend with Jesus. A time to disconnect from electronics and the voices of others. A time to talk and listen and dream and hear his voice encouraging your heart. A time to reconnect to the vine so that flows into you and through you once you reenter your world.
Practical Annual Ideas
Attend a Conference or Retreat
Get away with the purpose of being filled up. Laugh, worship, talk, receive, dream, slow down, and interact with Jesus through it all. Take advantage of your drive to the destination, the early morning that is quiet and slow, the breaks between sessions, and being away from responsibilities to open your ears and heart to the voice of God and respond to him. What happens here can’t sustain you for the year, but it can become an annual infusion of hope and renewal that draws you closer to God.
Go Away for an Overnight
This doesn’t have to be fancy. I’ve gone camping on my own before. And it doesn’t have to be far away either. I’ve stayed only miles from home in a friend’s spare bedroom! But go somewhere you won’t see all the things (and maybe people!) crying out for your time and attention. Take this a step further and turn off your phone. The world will go on without you for 48 hours. I promise! Read through a book of the Bible. Listen to praise music. Sleep! Journal. Get outside. Orient your heart towards God and stay in that orientation the entire time. I’m pretty sure it might become an annual rhythm you don’t want to miss!
Make it Practical for You
What can you do in life right now to help you look forward to time with Jesus? Be creative. These are only a few ideas. Choose something that will bring delight, enjoyment, and anticipation of the special time you get to spend time with Jesus!
Want more practical ideas? Subscribers, go to the FREE Resource Library and find a printable list of 20 more unique ways to infuse anticipation into the time you spend with Jesus. (You can find it under Enjoying God.)
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