Expectations. We all have them. We have them concerning our lives. Our jobs. Our marriages. Our children. Our ministries.
What are expectations? Simply put, they are what we look forward to. What we anticipate. What we desire. What we hope for.
When I was a young girl I had expectations concerning growing up. I thought once I hit the magic number of 18 years I would instantaneously become an adult and my life would be my own. Yeah, not so much!
When I got engaged to be married, I had certain expectations. The house with the white picket fence, two dogs, one cat. The number of children we would have. How much money we would make. It would be happy, happy, happy, with nary a bump in the road. Hmmmm, still waiting for that scenario to come true!
As a new mom I had certain expectations regarding my children. How they would behave at home and in public. Their choices as teenagers. Their career choices as adults. Their desire to have me come live with them when I am old and senile. Pretty unrealistic expectations overall, except the wanting me to live with them so much they fight over me. I’m still waiting for that! That’s realistic, right?
I’ve come to understand that what we desire and what we look forward to aren’t always what we get. Sometimes we set the bar too high and are disappointed. Sometimes we set the bar too low and accept second best. How do we find that happy medium? How do we get to the place where we can be disappointed in the past, yet still have hope for the future? What will it take for us to realize that we are precious to God and we can expect more from life?
Short answer: Take all of our expectations of what could be, should be, or will be and set them at the foot of the cross. Then pick up the “spirit of expectancy” and cover our minds and hearts with that.
Long answer: When we set aside our preconceived ideas of what could have been, or what should have been, or what will be in the future, we are creating space for the Lord to work in our lives. When we commit to develop the spirit of expectancy, then we are training or minds and hearts to expect God to work His will in our lives. When we are consciously seeking God’s will and expecting Him to move according to His plan for our lives, then we begin to see the hand of God directly working. We become aware of all of the ways He is leading and directing. We recognize that it is God working on our behalf that causes the ebbs and flows in our lives. We are no longer stressing out about what is happening right now, or the injustices in our past, or the worry about our future. Rather, we exchange the hurts and disappointments with the assurance that we can expect God’s will for our lives. We can trust Him. And we can become active participants, along with God, in our lives. Not crusaders launching out on our own. Not helpless victims waiting for what happens next.
As an adult, I now know that life is a series of events. Some good. Some bad. Some joyful. Some painful. Yet, if I expect God to direct and guide, then He will. I don’t have answers to all of the, “Why?” questions, but I know who does. I live with the spirit of expectancy that God is working out His purposes in my life.
As a wife, I can now see that some of my early expectations were unrealistic. I never did get the white picket fence. Thank God! I’m just not a white picket fence type of gal and I would have hated it! Fortunately I learned early on in marriage to look to God as my Father and Provider. Ken and I have walked a faith walk for 34 years and I have never been disappointed in God. Some seasons were more challenging than others, but because I expected to see God working in our lives, I have witnessed miracles.
As a mother, I have given my children over to the Lord completely. I raised them in the best way I could with what I knew at that time. Certainly there are things I would do differently if I could get a do-over. Overall, though, I realize that my children are individuals with free wills and they will choose their own paths. I trust God to reveal himself to them so that they can make good choices. Have their actions blessed me? Absolutely! I have cried tears of pride. Have their actions hurt me? Occasionally. I have cried tears of pain. One thing I know, God is faithful and His love for my children exceeds my own. I have always had the spirit of expectancy when it comes to my kids. I have loved watching them mature as individuals and as Christians. I’m still expecting God to work in their lives, even as they now have children of their own.
Do you get it? The spirit of expectancy enhances our expectations because it is no longer all about us and what we desire and what we hope for, but what God desires for us. I am no longer subjected to the whims of circumstances, because I expect that God is “working out all things to my good”. My dreams and hopes, as well as my hurts and disappointments can now be given to Him, the One who loves me and gave Himself for me.
I am free to live, to trust, to build, to plant, and to watch my garden grow, safe in the knowledge that God is in charge.