It's resting there on our tree skirt, beneath twinkling lights and an eclectic compilation of ornaments hanging.
She tucked it there yesterday when she arrived home from school.
A white envelope-turned-beautiful-packaging with the art of her 4 yr old scribbles.
"But Momma, it is for now. We need to open this present early.
It is something I made..." her voice took on an urgent whisper,
"It is to go on the tree."
I realized I had just been entrusted with a secret of the deepest sort, and we decided together that the gift would indeed be opened early, this evening after her daddy has returned from his business travel.
It rests there alone, the first gift to be placed under our tree this year.
The others still reside in tucked away, secret crannies and corners; the mysterious labyrinth of gift-storage that only a momma can carve out of a home, at least until little people grow smarter and sneakier.
For this year, I still have my hidden treasure nooks, which will soon yield up their secrets to be wrapped in tissue and paper, labeled with a name, and placed around our tree.
I love those moments as much as, or even more than, the moments of unwrapping Christmas morning.
To see my little people; their faces bright as they spot packages under the tree, their eyes searching the glitzy labels, and then the twinkling of giggles and cries of, "look, this one says your name."
It is in those moments that one of the sweetest gifts is found and opened; opened early
because the waiting itself, holds the hidden surprise of it's greatest gift, anticipation.
Like my little daughter's special package,
amongst all of the other gifts being stored and prepared,
this one is to be opened now.
"It is for the tree".
Anticipation is for the journey.
It decorates, beautifies, and brings joy to the process.
The stuff of hope, desire, confidence, and longing all stirred together in an overflowing brew of delicious grace.
The assurance of future, unfolding goodness gifts itself to our struggling, not-yet-ness with the beauty and twinkling delight of hope tasted and savored.
Like my daughter's early surprise, anticipation's grace must be unwrapped.
Waiting can be a cruel companion if it's Giver is not known;
if His presence is not received and practiced and treasured.
To not yet have...
To not know what...
To not know why, or where, or who...
These can be of deepest soul-torture if held apart from the One who has wrapped them up for us.
One must position, and reach for, and guard, and linger over communion with The Giver.
In doing so, the tortures of waiting are transformed into packages, not yet unwrapped,
but beautiful, labeled with our names, and filling our hearts with hope.
The joy-filled excitement that my littles have over presents waiting comes from their knowledge of our Daddy and Momma love;
their confidence in our plans to bless their sweet socks off.
In knowing our love, they have found and unwrapped the early gift of anticipation.
Anticipation unwraps the waiting into a joy-filled hope.
Anticipation is found in being with the giver.
To not yet have...but to have The Giver.
To not know what...but to know it's Giver.
To not know why, or where, or who...but to know their Giver.
These become of deepest treasure, as in their very nature of not-yet,
their anticipation unwraps for us deep treasure troves of His presence.
Tonight, our little family will gather to open the gift that is for now.
We will joy in the sweet surprise of our daughter's creativity given for upwrapping early.
We are the waiting people, but we are also the knowing-Him people.
While we wait, our souls commune with The Giver in all of His merciful goodness....
Anticipation is for now.
And waiting's hidden surprise is opened early.
"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God."
"And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."
"For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds,
and to the one who knocks it will be opened...
If you then who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him?"
"To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust...
Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame...
All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep His covenant and His testimonies."