I spent the week leading up to New Year's making plans with friends, taking advantage of shortened work hours and expecting a fun few days. Not so much. Five different people cancelled on me over five days in a row. And one of them was a date I was really looking forward to! I went from hopeful expectation to big let down.
A little more lighthearted - I was speaking with a friend the other day who expected to receive a specific Christmas gift. Her sister asked her, "What would you like for Christmas?" and she responded, "an iPod." But instead of 16 gigs, she received 16 shirts from her sister. Sixteen shirts! But expecting what she asked for wasn't unrealistic, right?
When our expectations aren't met, we're disappointed. The joy gets sucked out a little. Life teaches us over and over again where we should not place expectations - namely, on other people. Will my friends cancel on me again in the future? Absolutely. Will I cancel on them, or let them down in another way? Sadly, yes, I will. Can you always expect to receive what you ask for from another person? Not always.
This is why our great expectations should be focused elsewhere. On the only person who can actually meet them - Jesus Christ. The one true God. With Him, we are taught that we will not be disappointed. He is always available, always faithful, never wavering. He is, in many ways, what we can't be, at least not while we're fallen. And that's why our eyes should be fixed on Him.
What can we expect from God? I'm thinking of an often quoted and favored verse from Jeremiah. Do you know it?
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." -Jeremiah 29:11
Forget your plans. God's plans are so much better, and if you can believe that and expect Him to pave the way in your life, you will find peace.
Wait for and confidently expect the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for and confidently expect the Lord. -Psalm 27:14
We can expect God to show up in our lives! He won't be silent, he won't be sedentary. That's just not His nature.
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. -Psalm 62:5
We can expect one of my favorite pastimes - rest. And something no person should go without - hope.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. -James 1:17
He doesn't change! But so many things do right? Living situations, jobs, relationships. We can't expect them to stay the same forever, but we can expect God to be the same incredible Father He's always been.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. -Matthew 7:7
Have you ever prayed expectantly, and had that prayer come true? I really need to start praying like that. Rather than my usual meek plea, I want to present bold requests with faith. That's my resolution for 2016.
I subscribe to daily emails from Rick Warren, and I loved what he said a few days ago - "God wants you to dream big. He wants you to base your dream not on what you think you can do but on what you think God can do. He wants you to use the imagination that he gave you, because dreaming big honors him. It shows faith. It shows trust."
So! As Christians, lovers of Jesus, we can expect:
- A prosperous future
- God to show up in our lives
- Rest and hope
- That God will never change
- Answered prayers
We know our expectations of God can be high, and He'll still blow them out of the water! But let's go back to the people in our lives. What should we do when they don't meet our expectations, or when we don't meet theirs? We should do as Jesus does to us - listen, forgive and love. We're going to be let down countless times, and we'll let others down, too. The good news? There's grace for that. A grace that we can share with everyone. Let's do that this year.