On the refrigerator in our kitchen is an Advent calendar. This simple calendar is a little larger than an regular sheet of paper. The picture on it is of the Nativity.
Scattered throughout the picture are 25 little doors. Each door, in 60 characters or less, tells a little bit about the Christmas story.
Beginning Dec. 1, one of my children opens that day's door and reads the story, building their anticipation as they count down till Christmas Day.
The word "advent" comes from a Latin word meaning "to come." It is a word of anticipation. It is a word trying to capture the essence of waiting for that which has been promised to finally come.
Christmas is full of anticipation. We set presents under the tree, anticipating the day they when the contents can finally be revealed. Little (and not so little) hands shake the boxes and listen to the contents with great anticipation trying to guess what could possibly be in those brightly colored packages.
We set out decorations and lights celebrating the anticipation of the Christmas Day that is to come.
All of the food, the music, the parties, cards and hubbub all scream of anticipation.
Anticipation cannot be wrapped. Yet 2,000 years ago anticipation was packaged.
Galatians 4: 4-5 reads, "But when the right time came, God sent his son ... God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children."
At the right time came God acted, though not as expected. When the time was perfect according to his schedule he sent his son, the perfect gift.
This gift, the hope of Christmas, wasn't to sit on the shelf collecting dust or reporting our behavior back to the main office. This anticipated hope of Christmas is liberty. This gift, acted on our behalf, changed men and women everywhere from orphans to children.
God acts at the right time. The anticipation building in our lives -- beyond the lights of Christmas -- must rest in the truth that God acts at the right time. The difficulties that so many are facing this year can rest in the truth that God acts at the right time.
Anticipate him acting toward you this year.
Rob Hurtgen is a husband, father, minister and writer. Read more from him at www.robhurtgen.wordpress.com.