One of our most distinctive qualities as humans, I think, is anticipation — the ability and proclivity to think about what’s coming next. I suppose animals can anticipate things to a certain degree: our dog knows that he gets a walk every morning, so he starts bouncing off the walls and begging to go soon after I get up. Still, I doubt that he’s thinking about the morning walk when he crawls under Samuel’s bed and goes to sleep at night.

The power of anticipation gives us the ability to plan, to prepare, to take advantage of upcoming opportunities. But, anticipation may also open the door to fretting, worrying, or dreading some future event. Like most things in life, whether anticipation serves us in positive or negative ways depends on how we approach it.

Today I’m anticipating a long drive to Merritt Island, Florida, where my niece and her NASA engineer husband live. Tomorrow they’re taking me on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Kennedy Space Center. I prepared for the long drive by packing appropriately, stocking a cooler with soft drinks, putting gas in the car, and charging the battery in my iPod. I prepared for the NASA tour by watching a DVD collection of highlights from NASA’s first 50 years, and by packing my camera. Readers can anticipate a probable pile of pictures in my Monday blog.

What are you anticipating for this weekend, for the next month, for the next year or years? Do you look forward to the future with eagerness, or contemplate it with trepidation? The difference can depend in part on whether we’ve planned and prepared for what’s next, but our outlook is also shaped by our faith and the shape of our expectations. I don’t expect God to provide smooth sailing within the “hedge of protection” I sometimes hear people praying for. Still, I do cling to the promise of Romans 8:28 that no matter what comes, something good can come out of it. 

The daily countdown is a time for preparation and hope for a voyage into a myriad of possibilities: enjoy the ride!

10, 9, 8, 7 . . .

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