When I booked my flights home for a summer visit, I texted my mom, dad, and sister the plans. We hadn’t seen each other since Thanksgiving. They needed to be prepared for when I was planning to come, mostly so my sister would know when to pick me up from the airport, my dad could start planning the meals he wants to cook, and my mom could clean the house for me as though I didn’t live there for 18 years. I began counting down the days until Ohio.
I didn’t realize someone else was counting too.
On Friday, I was at a conference when I got a call from my parents’ landline. They don’t often call me from that phone, so I figured I’d better answer it. I expected to hear my dad’s voice, but instead I heard a tiny, feminine voice saying, “Kendi! Guess what? I’m using the telephone! It’s real!” My niece is about to turn six, and she has grown up with an iPhone within arm’s reach her whole life. But she didn’t call just to tell me that the telephone was real, she wanted to talk about how I was coming to visit. She knew that at that point, there were three days to go. I talked to her later that evening, and my mom had helped her figure out exactly how many hours were left until my plane landed.
The day before I flew out, I got a FaceTime call from my sister. When Kaelyn saw who her mom was talking to, she ran over and said, “Kendi! I see you tomorrow!” Then she recreated the dance she did that morning when she realized there was only one more day to go.
On the morning of the trip, I got this text from my sister.
I didn’t tell Kaelyn I was coming. My family told her I was coming, to be looking for me, and gave her something to look forward to. They reminded her. She got the joy of anticipating the visit for weeks, to add to the joy of being reunited.
As Christians, we believe that Jesus is coming. He’s coming for us, to be reunited, to spend forever with his people. We have the joy of anticipating something far greater than our aunt coming from Texas, although we get experiences like that as a shadow of what’s to come. When he comes, we will be raised to life. We’re waiting for him to come and “transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body.” (Philippians 3:21) He’s coming to bring us home, to make our hope a reality. We are to be eagerly waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:28)
Sometimes, the anticipation doesn’t feel like joy. Sometimes it feels like longing, like groaning, difficult and painful. Sometimes it’s asking, “How long, O Lord?” Sometimes it’s begging, “Maranatha.” Come, Lord Jesus.
We need to be reminded. We need to be reminded that he’s coming for us, to wait eagerly for his return. We need to be reminded so we can anticipate him with joy and be ready to meet him when he comes. We can do that for each other, and share in the joy and longing together until that day arrives. The day when the clouds will be rolled back like a scroll and we see him face to face. What joy we will know then!
Come, Lord Jesus.