Mary and Joseph must have had quite the flood of emotions washing over them that night as they settled into the barn. They’d made the roughly 100-mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, likely taking them more than a week, to register in the census. The timing of the census must have seemed cruel as Mary was near term. The trip would have been hard enough if she hadn’t been pregnant, but she had no choice.
There must have been some uneasiness as to whether they would even make it to Bethlehem before she gave birth. I can imagine her joy when they finally arrived, only to have it yanked away when they heard that the inn was full. “A stable, really???”
Once she had finally gotten off of her feet, she probably settled herself and began to think about the promises of God concerning her child. She sat expectant for the fulfillment of the words the angel had spoken. She waited… filled with hope.
When I was a child, Santa always seemed to show up when we were away at church on Christmas Eve. I’m sure that he didn’t realize the difficulty my sister and I would have sitting still for the service, or else he’d probably have come at a different time. The air was charged with expectancy. Good things were in store and I could hardly wait!
Everything seemed to take longer on Christmas eve. The wait for church to start. The singing. The sermon–especially the sermon! The car ride home. But once we were home a peace seemed to settle. We were still excited to open presents, but we somehow found a peace in goodness of our parents. I don’t remember a disappointing Christmas.
And now we wait, eagerly expectant for the return of our Lord Jesus. “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And no only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we are saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:22-25, ESV). And Paul tells us in Galatians 5:5, “For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness” (ESV).
No one knows when Jesus will come back. It could be before you finish reading this blog. It may not happen for a thousand years. But expectancy should be our posture. When we keep expectancy in the forefront of our minds, when we go through our day conscious of the fact that He could come at any time, it fills us with hope; it fills us with an urgency that obliterates the box that we once kept God in.
Expectancy makes us better Christians. Better people. John said it this way: “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure” (1 John 3:2-3, ESV, emphasis mine).