Even better than our anticipation
It happened in my sixth year and Eddie’s eleventh, the covert op under cover of darkness. We went carefully and oh so silently into the room lit only by stray moonbeams. We trod stealthily like two ninjas, our breaths shallow and quick. Our mingled fear and excitement climbed with every step. Mission? Seek those stockings stuffed with gifts, the unwrapped kind, and put our crazy anticipating anxiety to rest until Christmas morn.
We had reconned the mission and knew the exact positioning of the stockings. Eddie, second to oldest, counted two from the left. I rushed to the end of the line. We lifted the stockings in unison releasing their loops from the nails. The hard part was behind us.
First, I felt the sharp edges and round bulges in my red felt stocking decorated with a hand-painted Christmas elf. My eyes opened wide. My focus was on the uppermost treasures—the large hard globes at the toe had to be the fruit I knew to expect, and the smaller shapes would be the nuts (I would save these for later). I unloaded small boxes that seemed to overflow from the top—and then I went in.
Maybe some of the readers do not know about Matchbox cars, but they were what I hoped for this particular holiday. The small replicas of the best vehicles imaginable came in boxes about the size of matchboxes, hence the name (Google it—it’s worth a look). My eager child’s hands opened each box, removed the car, and
felt the details as best I could. On the silent carpeted floor, I took them all for a first spin, marveling at the smooth ride. I opened every box, explored all of the stash, and my nervous anticipation slowed to unbelievable happiness. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined” (Isa. 9:2 NRSV).
Waiting is hard. Waiting with anticipation is less hard, but the excitement and longing sometimes reach fever pitch. It was so for
the faithful who lived with that anticipation of the coming of Messiah—the Deliverer. The prophets’ words kindled their desire for that promise. Would it be this year? This generation? They eagerly watched for the signs, combing the messages in the Pentateuch, reading the passages, seeking to be vigilant, knowing
that the fulfillment would be beyond their wildest imagination. Isaiah proclaims, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, or the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this” (9:6-7). How can this kind of anticipation be waited for by mere men?