There is a delicious anxiety that clings to the winter holidays each year. It’s beautiful to see, unsettling when you feel it, and yet Christmas would not seem the same without it. If the feeling of waiting wasn’t worth the effort, the prelude would be torture.
Watching a young child watch a present under a tree can be quite amusing. There is so much anticipation invested in the unknown gift. While some might beg to open the present before the appointed time, others find the courage to shake the present and guess at what it contains.
Recalling a childhood memory, a friend recently told me how curiosity often bested her before Christmas morning. Unable to wait, she would secretly open her gifts, wrap them back up, and then pretend to be surprised. Though now a grandmother, there was a mischievous gleam in her eye as she confessed that this is a tradition she is still guilty of.
Waiting for company to arrive when you are expecting a visit can supplement any holiday anxiety quite nicely. As a boy, I would repeatedly go to the window to see if family or friends had come yet. Many times I would be disappointed – every time, in fact, except the last time. I’m happy to admit this is a tradition I continue to keep.
Now that I’m older, I still get deliciously anxious at the holidays. Christmas is somewhat different from when I was little, but I still find so much to look forward to.
The past few weeks have provided numerous reasons for me to think about the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. While celebrating His miraculous birth, I have also considered what it was like for those who were watching and waiting. I think they must have felt some of that delicious anxiety after seeing the star, or hearing the voices of heralding angels.
Similarly I have pondered His second coming that believers anxiously await. Like pulling out familiar decorations from the basement, or extracting a small piece of chocolate from an advent calendar, there are preparations right now that suggest the season of His coming is getting closer. How soon? I don’t know. But I am watching.
There is a difference in seeking a sign because of disbelief and watching for signs because you do believe. Jesus himself said that those who believe will be looking for the great day of the Lord to come, even the signs of His coming. Those who are not watching will be unprepared. Those who are ready will be invited to the wedding. (Doctrine & Covenants 45:39, 44, 57)
Many of the signs of Jesus’ coming foretold in the scriptures will be accompanied by great and terrible events. Some will make men anxious, and others will most definitely be worth the wait. Beautiful promises have been made to those who are faithful. The important thing is to watch and be ready at His coming. Perhaps all the years of waiting to open presents at Christmases past will pay off. Those who have learned to enjoy the anxious waiting before a holiday may find hope in doing difficult things. As for me, I plan to keep watch at the window.
Some concentrated sources for information on the signs of his coming can be found in Mathew 24; Mark 13; Luke 17 and 21; Doctrine & Covenants 29, 45, 88, and 133; and Joseph Smith Matthew 1.
What I Believe...