December 1 marks the beginning of Advent this year on the Christian Church calendar.
Advent. The season of anticipation, of expectation.
Christians take time to remember how Mary and Joseph awaited the birth of Jesus. This chosen couple knew their son was special, but they could not comprehend everything God had planned.
When I think about it, every day in the life of a Christian is advent. Every day, I anticipate the Second Coming, at least, I should. Every day I wake up with the expectant question, “What does God have for me today? What adventure? What mission? What joyous moment?
Charles Spurgeon talked about the treasure God has pledged to us. Heaven. Everlasting life with Him. My finite little self can’t comprehend everything He has in store for me, much like Mary and Joseph couldn’t know future events involving their family. I try to look forward to heaven in the same way I would anticipate a long-awaited expensive birthday present, but heaven’s rewards are so far beyond a mere gift. In reality, I don’t look forward to heaven because my understanding is so limited. I simply wait, trusting that heaven is good because God says so.
Then I feel guilty about possessing a blasé attitude. How can I not get excited about heaven?
It helps to look at a toddler’s first Christmas. She doesn’t understand the fuss whirling around her. The tree with its pretty lights and shiny baubles is fascinating. The brightly wrapped boxes under the tree beg to be touched, but everyone tells her no. She must wait to touch the presents. Christmas morning arrives, and someone hands her a box. Finally!
She tears the paper off the box, notes the teddy bear inside then turns her attention to shredding the paper and pulling apart the shiny ribbon. She is now delighted with the idea of Christmas presents but misses the point. Although she’s aware of the gift in the box, it doesn’t much interest her until all the gaudy nonessentials are used up.
I know that heaven is in my future, but forever with God has less real meaning for me than picturing streets of gold or heavenly mansions. Those are nice pictures to identify with, but they aren’t the heart of heaven. Like the toddler who adores her teddy bear long after the wrapping paper has been cleared away, some day I’m going to cherish everything God has prepared for me. For now, I’m excited about pulling the ribbon off the package and entering heaven’s gates.
After that, I’ll enjoy the real treasure.