We lead a small group (“Lifegroup” in our church body’s vernacular) that consists of young married couples, where by young I mean “kids,” as in late twenties to early thirties. They’re a lot of fun, and we have a lot of fun with them. As well as doing completely serious Bible study, of course…
One of the newest couples to the group has, in the last couple of weeks, been called away to a far-away mission field filled with people of dubious reputation and an environment of open hostility to human beings. This place is known in English as “Lubbock.”
This past Wednesday was the husband’s last day with the group (the wife is staying until the end of the month to wrap up things at their apartment). When we get down to the completely serious portion of the evening that is Bible study, we open with prayer, and I sometimes ask for volunteers to pray and sometimes volunteer someone to pray.1
I said, “Since this is ⸻’s last evening with us, I feel like he should pray.” (I should note for the record that I’d never asked him to pray before.) Everyone laughed, including him, although he might have been sweating a little. Since he didn’t immediately run out of the room, I stayed with it and said, “All right, go for it!” And he prayed an awesome prayer. Which (for me) was never in doubt.
After which our resident “say whatever I’m thinking” person said, “That was an awesome prayer—did you prepare that beforehand?” At which everyone laughed again…
… and he said, “Yes!”
“Wait, what? Did you really?” “Yes! I told my wife yesterday, ‘It’s my last night, Vince is probably going to ask me to pray, I should be ready.’ ” Which really started the group laughing.
I had lots of thoughts, starting with I’ve gotten old and way too predictable. Clearly I should have asked him to pray his next-to-last week, instead of his last week. I’m going to have to step up my game here.
But after a couple of days (more on that in a second), the next thought was: Do I anticipate what Jesus wants me to do that well?
We’re way behind the curve, but we’ve finally started watching The Chosen. I’ve purposefully avoided it until now because, as a rule, Christian film/TV, like most Christian music today, is terrible with a capital T-E-R-R-I-B-L-E. The first Christian movie I saw was on our pastor’s recommendation, and afterwards I asked him, “Why on earth did you recommend that movie? It was horrible.” “But it had a great story!” (In other words, he knew it was horrible.) “Who could tell behind all of that awful acting?”
Anyway, I’d heard bits and pieces about The Chosen, and I put it in the same bucket and forgot about it. Within the last couple of months, at least two people whose opinions we respect (translated: they like productions because they’re good) said something offhand about The Chosen, and so we decided to check it out.
And, what do you know, it’s good! I know, right? Who’da thunk it? There are lots of things we could talk about, but given the above, what I want to focus on is the disciples complete and utter lack of ability to figure out what Jesus wants them to do, even when He has told them directly.
One of the episodes we watched recently had Jesus going away for a bit for worrying reasons, and as He’s leaving He tells them, “It’s fine, I’ll be back in a bit.” (He might have said “soon”; that’s a recurring inside joke throughout the series.) And the disciples all spend the next several minutes arguing about what they’re going to do for Him, to help Him, etc. Twice, at different times, first one of them and then a second one says, “He said He would be back; we don’t have to do anything!” but they were each promptly drowned out by the rest of the groups plans and arguments about plans. When He gets back (in “a bit” or “soon”), the subject of their discussion comes up and He says, “Why? I told you I would be back soon.”
Between our LG member and those disciples, I’m much more like those disciples. Our LG member has only been a part of the group for a few months, but he already learned enough to anticipate what might (… probably … definitely would) happen. I’ve been a follower of Jesus for nigh on none-of-your-business years, and I’m not sure I have that kind of anticipation. (OK, yes, I’m sure I don’t have that kind of anticipation.)
So, a funny thing happened on someone else’s way to Lubbock. I learned that Anticipation isn’t just a great song in a series of cheesy commercials. I learned I might could anticipate what Jesus will want me to do and get ready for it. Which would make me all the more prepared for when He actually called me to do that thing.
I invite you to join me in that anticipating, but don’t wait until you get that song out of your head, because that will be approximately never.