I was sitting in a friend's house on the night before leaving on a two day road trip that would take us across three Canadian provinces and quite a few hundred kilometres away from my home. I anticipated many hours of varied but rather dry scenery - the snow was gone from most of the prairies but the spring rains hadn't arrived yet. I anticipated some great conversation that might take unexpected turns, and of course several stops at "Timmies,” because you just can't do a road trip without your favourite beverage. I anticipated laughter and story-telling and unrestricted snacking. I knew there would also be some bird watching since we’d be travelling through the migration paths of Canada geese, snow geese, swans, cranes and many other bird species. I knew I might have to ask my friend, the driver, to stop for a photo- op or two because the sweeping fields and almost-summer skies just cry out to be photographed.
I anticipated the warm hugs at friends' and family members' homes along the way and then finally at our destination where we would meet with others of like mind and spirit. I anticipated meeting new people, since this would be an inaugural event, first of its kind in Canada. But there would be some reunions too, as we picked up familiar passengers along the way and met with organizers of the First Nations Christian Writers' Conference - some of whom I had been acquainted with for years.
I anticipated good food and fine fellowship - with pickerel, wild rice and bannock how can you lose? I knew there would be laughter and undoubtedly some tears as I listened to the stories of those whose lives had known much hardship and pain. I knew I would hear words like residential school, suicide, alcoholism and incarceration. But I knew there would be other words as well, words like forgiveness, healing, reconciliation and redemption.
I anticipated some wonderfully inspiring talks - the kind you listen to and the kind you participate in. I anticipated God's gentle voice speaking through others, speaking to my heart, speaking to my soul. I anticipated being in awe of those whose voices have been silent far too long. I anticipated being in awe of the One who had led us all to that place.
I anticipated that weariness when you've been sleeping in too many strange beds, but also the elation in knowing that what you've helped to make happen would have long-lasting ripple effects. I anticipated that deep peace in knowing you have been obedient to an unusual call, a call that came at an inconvenient time, a call so clear that it drove away all the valid reasons for not responding with obedience.
I anticipated coming home, happy to have gone but always happy to return and thankful to the One who orchestrated it all, all to His glory.
And as I pondered all these things I thought of another anticipation that rises in me from time to time. It happens when I see light streaming from a grey cloud or the blaze of the setting sun over a calm lake. It happens when I realize my life has a time limit. The anticipation comes with a longing for heaven. I don’t know a great deal about what it will be like there but I anticipate a joy in God’s presence that is impossible to comprehend on this earth. I anticipate an existence without stress or pain because sin does not exist there. I anticipate a complete peace because in that place all will be made right.
I can be sure that one day I will have the joy of that experience because one day 38 years ago I asked Jesus Christ to forgive me and take control of my life. Because of that decision my anticipation of heaven brings no feelings of guilt or fear. I know “Whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him against that day.”
If you do not have that assurance there is a very simple way to achieve it - simply ask God for that same forgiveness. It’s available to anyone at anytime. Don’t let the “A” word cause you stress. Ask Jesus to be part of your life today and it will bring you nothing but joy.
Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she lives with her pastor/husband and two golden retrievers. She is a long-time member and past president of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship and the American Christian Writers’ Fellowship.
Marcia has published two contemporary novels, four devotional books and numerous articles and devotionals both online and in print. Her work is available on Amazon or on her website - www.marcialeelaycock.com