Recently I was asked if I would lead a discussion session at our church’s ladies event. I was given the material beforehand and was preparing by answering the questions in it for myself. I was really enjoying the process. Until I came to a question about expectation. When I was asked what I expected God to do in the future, and to thank him in advance for what he would do, I froze. I felt like I was taking a test I had not studied for. Then before I knew it, thoughts that must have been deep in my heart, tumbled out, rapid fire, “I don’t know what God will do in the future. He does what he wants. I don’t know what he will do.” I just couldn’t put that down. I knew it was a bad answer.
I tried to think of what would be good to write and jotted down some things I hoped would happen, things I had prayed for. As I wrote them I felt little conviction and no wonderful sense of expectation. Then I sat there thinking, about my unwritten answer. It bothered me. A chink in my trust had been exposed.
It was very clear to me that God has been there for me in my past. And I was convinced God was in the present helping me moment by moment. But when I looked ahead, down the road, I was… nervous. I began to argue with myself. You expect things from your husband. You know he will show up for dinner, you expect it. You believe him when he says he will help. What about God? You are in a relationship with Him. There are things you should expect him to do… Next I felt like God had joined the argument. He was speaking to my heart, There are things you should expect me to do. Things I have told you in my word, promises I have made. You need to expect things from me. I knew that was true.
I had been living without any sense of holy expectation. And in that moment I felt the Lord granting me a little gift. The gift of expecting him to be there, in the future, to help with whatever I needed, to fulfill promises he has made.
“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hand of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.” Luke 24: 5-7 NIV
When Mary went into the garden on resurrection morning, she was crying, carrying burial spices, and planning to attend to a dead body. She was not expecting Jesus to be alive. Until Jesus personal conversation with her she could not see or understand what was true, that Jesus had risen just as he said. She thought Jesus was dead, his body perhaps stolen. Jesus was alive. He had robbed death. Mary was viewing things under an old paradigm, or mindset. Have you ever done that?
I have. What is an old paradigm of mine, a fruitless way of seeing things that needs to go? Here is one. Expecting too much from myself and other people, and expecting nothing from God. Here is another, believing that it’s better and safer not to expect– believing that somehow not expecting saves me from disappointment and prepares me to better handle things. Wouldn’t it be better to believe and expect that Jesus will do what he says and that he will show up for us, on any day, for our good, no matter what? The cross proved that Jesus is faithful to show up on the hardest of days, to bear every hard thing on our behalf.
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord.” John 20:18 NIV
Last week family came for a visit. They told me they were coming and when they would arrive. I believed them. I expected them. Then I acted on that expectation. I cleaned. I made beds. And as I did, I thought of Jesus words, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will return and take you to be with me”(John 14:2-3). I’ve read those words many times and heard them many times. And I have loved them. This time however, those words took on new meaning. Why? Because I believed them.
Forgive me. I grow tired and weary and wonder if I will make it. You do not. I wonder if I will have what it takes to do your will, to be faithful whatever comes. But you, you cannot be unfaithful. You cannot be un-strong, you cannot be fickle or ungracious. You cannot fail to show up. You cannot fail to live up to your vows and promises. You will not cease to guide and provide. I know so little of your matchless character, because I have often projected onto you my own ways. Open my eyes to see your glory. Help me to see who you really are as declared in your Word. Lord, help me to trust in you with all my heart and to lean not on my own understanding (Prov. 3:5). From this day forward may I no longer wonder what will happen, but instead expect you to do what you say. Fill me with holy expectation so that I may reflect your true character to the world.