Expecting without Expectation

I am the blessed mother of five incredible sons. That is five pregnancies, five marked times when expectations ran high and five deliveries into reality. Knowing and unknowingly, each time I was expecting with expectation! You would think this in itself would be enough to free me from further bowing to expectations, but it hasn’t.

I carry many spoken and unspoken, known and unknown expectations. They can be the source of conflict in relationships or problems in the workplace. They rest unseen like a burr under the saddle; all is fine until pressure is applied!

Expect

To expect is to look forward to something with eagerness or to anticipate the occurrence or the coming of something or someone. Expecting can be positive!

Not only did we anticipate the births of our own children, my husband and I looked ahead to when they would be married. We with eagerness awaited the arrival of each grandchild.  Over the years, our family of two has expanded to twenty-three!

The joy of expectancy!

When my husband and I were married, we fully expected some day to have a family. We had no expectation of how large that family would become, or how blessed our lives would be through them.

Expecting can also be negative!

“He does not punish us for all our sins;
he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.”
Psalms 103:10

The guilt of sin and failure, accompanied by conviction is not unfamiliar territory for me! I know when justice should be administered, yet mercy and grace are portioned out. I fully expect to receive the penalty that already has been applied.

The cross was the greatest act of justice ever conceived. Christ bore the full weight of the penalty of sin in His death.  What I deserved, Christ took! Though I expect punishment, grace is offered. It is a grace without strings attached.

Expectation

Expectation, on the other hand, is quite different. It is the eagerness of something “self-determined” happening in the future coupled with

assumption and even presumption,
conjecture or prediction.

It is a strong belief that something should happen in a specific way! Today is the day of unparalleled, unrealistic expectations. Media continually flashes images of “super people” in front of us. You know what I mean: the new car, perfect home, six figure income, kids who always behave, the ladder of success easily climbed, never weary, always on the up-and-up…

The weight of unrealistic expectations, like heavy stones, breaks emotional bones, fractures families, and incubates discouragement.

“The hopes of the godly result in happiness,
but the expectations of the wicked come to nothing.”
Proverbs 10:28

Expectations carry a selfish slant filled with desires of self-fulfillment even when we think they don’t!

God’s Plans

Because God is inerrantly good, everything He is and does is good. What He has for us is good!

“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

Hope and desire are the fuel of living passionately! When rightly placed they release God intention to the world around us. It is God who gives us the ability to dream, and the courage to dream again when dreams seem lost.

“Surely there is a future,
And your hope will not be cut off.”
Proverbs 23:18

Expect without Expectation

Here is where I make the leap! In knowing the goodness and love of God, I form presumptions of what I think the future should be. Rather than placing my trust in Him, with childlike simplicity, I begin to weave my own ending into the story line of not only my life, but of those around me.

My prime victims are those closest to me. It is  most unloving, however, to expect the best for them, while tightly gripping the confining strings of expectation around their lives.

Strings tightly attached!

Then there is the paralyzing opposite! Because of unfulfilled, self-directed expectations, I find a reluctance within me to expect again, a hesitancy to hope, and a fear of dreaming for the impossible.

Expecting without expectation requires living with

arms flung purposefully open,
a heart tenderized and welcoming to all,
a mind flexible to God encounters and initiatives,
and a no-holds-barred
“Yes” to God!

To fully expect, requires trust!

Trust

What allows me to release expectation is, undoubtedly, a confident trust in God who is completely trustworthy.

“For God alone, O my soul,
wait in silence, for my hope is from him.”
Psalm 62:5

It is right and good to expect God to be all He said He would be. I can expect with absolute assurance that He will fulfill all He has promised. It is on this foundation that faith rests.

“Faith is the confidence that
what we hope for will actually happen;
it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”
Hebrews 11:1

Living expecting in His goodness, without expectations of predictable outcomes, is perhaps like walking a tight-rope blindfolded. Unknowing how far I have come or how far is left to go, without solid ground beneath my feet or structure to hold to, I hesitantly move forward.

God gives the assurance to let go of all expectations, while simultaneously whispering an invitation to hope. He opens the window releasing failure, disappointment and loss while allowing the breath of His Presence to enter with freshness.

When His word touches my heart, do I receive it, holding it gently, and examining it purposefully, before surrendering it wilfully at His feet? In this is the image of expecting without expectation. It is

receiving without clinging,
appreciating with owning,
possessing without controlling,
loving without manipulating,

“We Had Hoped”

“Our lives should be lived with expectancy.
Not necessarily with expectation,
because expectation tends to dictate terms…
Expectancy is the belief that God will do something.
Expectation insists He do it in just this way…”

– Mark Buchanan

(“Your God is Too Safe” – Pg 149)

Blind and deaf with expectation!

Two perplexed disciples walked the road to Emmaus when a “Stranger” joined their conversation:

“..we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel…”
Luke 24:21

Their expectation of Christ didn’t include betrayal, crucifixion, or the inexplicable empty tomb! The Source of all hope walked beside them. They neither recognized nor heard – blind and deaf by expectation! Until He broke the bread…

How oft I miss seeing The One beside me, because of expectation for a different way.

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Before and After! God’s Transformation at Work!

Before and after? You would think my husband and I enjoy renovating and transforming old spaces into new more practical versions. However, what is truly amazing is God’s transformation at work in human lives!

We have several before and after pictures of kitchen, bath, and landscape renovations. The work of transformation is usually a messy process. Our vision of the end result drives us forward! There is always a cost associated with reconstruction. Sometimes it is higher than initial estimates; at other times we have been right on target.

My First Home

My father built our family farm-house from design to finish. It stood the test of time surviving the fury of even a prairie tornado! Four generations lived within its walls creating memories.

Transformation from farm house to cottage!

Now it has been moved to a nearby lake and rests securely as beachfront property. Though it looks much the same, the surrounding landscape is radically different from its original location. I smile when I think of what an avid fisherman my father was. He would be pleased to see his workmanship in this scenic spot.

Today new generations are enjoying my father’s labours.

God’s Choice

God is the Master of transformation! We see His workmanship igniting destiny and bringing purpose into seemingly ordinary people.

As we consider God’s choices for forerunners in the church, we justly scratch our heads in wonder. At the same time, we can take hope from these unlikely candidates! Most of them got off to a rather poor start!

  • Paul bored someone to death by his sermon! Fortunately he was also able to resurrect the poor lad!
  • Peter who often had at least one sandal stuck in his mouth became the apostle to the Jews. You can be sure these scholars examined his every word!
  • Mary, a former prostitute, led the first woman’s ministry to the tomb and became the first to declare Jesus’ resurrection
  • The Sons of Thunder, who were known to fight for “top dog” position, settled into stride promoting others to places of honour and authority!

Diamonds in the Rough - From Rough to Refined!

All of them were diamonds in the rough before God began His work! He had vision to see their potential!

We can find strength and encouragement from even these few examples! Knowing God used murderers, prostitutes, and shepherds, I know He can use anyone! If God deliberately chose the weak and fearful, it is not unreasonable to believe that He can and will use you and me! Because God chose to use the unlikely, ill-equipped, social rejects, and family outcasts, He is perfectly capable of using us!

God’s transformation is so complete in the lives He touches, there is little similarity between the before and after!

Hope

“Remember … that few of you
were wise in the world’s eyes
or powerful or wealthy when God called you.
Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish
in order to shame those who think they are wise.
And he chose things that are powerless
to shame those who are powerful.”
I Corinthians 1:26-28

I’m in the list! Right here is where I do my happy dance! I fit!

Celebrate God's transformation working in us!

Foolish? Weak? Yes! I qualify!
Lowly? Despised? Check! Check!
Things that are not? Yes, that’s me!

Here is where I am filled with awe! When I face the reality of my humanity, I fall helpless and breathless in the wonder of His love, mercy and grace!

God choosing me is too wonderful to understand!

We all possess the need to be known fully and loved unconditionally! Click To Tweet

We all possess the need to be known fully and loved unconditionally! God alone does both, and more! He alone satisfies and fills the deepest craving for absolute acceptance and unconditional love!

Transformation

My question is why! When there is no good thing in and of myself, why would You choose me?

“to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.
It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus,
who has become for us wisdom from God—
that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.”
I Corinthians 1:28-30

Our weakness and insufficiency amplifies His greatness and goodness!

The first step, my husband and I do in renovation, is take apart what presently exists, removing walls, wiring and plumbing. We go right to the structural elements! Later, we start again replacing faulty materials with new.

God does much the same in us! It is a lifelong process that one day will be perfectly perfect! Some day we will be completely complete! But not here!

It is a lifelong process that one day will be perfectly perfect! Some day we will be completely complete! Click To Tweet

There is only one adequate response, worship!

God is the only One worthy of worship!

Chosen

God has chosen each one of us! Contemplate that for a moment! Every one of us, hand-picked, specifically selected, divinely appointed, highly favoured,  and elected for Him, through Him and by Him!

The Mighty God,
Creator of all things,
Redeemer, Saviour, Friend,
The Anchor of our souls and Hope eternal,
King above all other kings, The Lord of lords,
The One upon the throne,
our Shepherd, Light and Salvation,
who holds all things secure in the palm of His hand,
whose strength flashes like lightning,
and whose voice resounds like thunder,
too big for any box we might want to put Him in,
beyond understanding,
from everlasting to everlasting limitless,
self-existed, omnipresent, all-powerful,
knowing all things and seeing all things,
Love unconditional and undeniable,
wild and holy,
dwelling in irreproachable light,
nothing can stand against Him, no power can limit Him,
His mercies are new every morning
 faithful to all He has promised….

Seeing from heaven's perspective!

The One and only God has chosen, called and ordained you and me unto Himself! He is committed to seeing each of us rise to the fullness of our potential.

“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely,
and may your whole spirit and soul and body
be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”
I Thessalonians 5:23-24

His transformation process continues in each of us! Rejoice in His faithfulness!

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More on Transformation: Meeting God in the Ordinary – From Common to Holy

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Hopelessness! Facing the Impossible!

Facing the Impossible

Hopelessness is living beyond optimism, usually when facing something impossible to accomplish, solve or resolve. It fills you with an incapacity to respond positively.

Hopelessness bombards the core of ones faith and undermines purpose.

In these last few weeks a tsunami of seemingly hopeless situations have been slamming the physical bodies, homes, marriages and ministries of people whom I love deeply.

Hopeless, that is, apart from the I AM!

No Ordinary Day

The day started out ordinary enough. Or was it? After an exhausting night of unsuccessful fishing, Simon and his partners were cleaning their nets before grabbing a few hours rest and going out again. No fish! No pay! He knew the financial pressures of operating a business.

As Jesus walked by, he was being pressed by an overly enthusiastic crowd. They were wanting to hear the word of God.

I have never experienced such  hunger for the word of God!

Lake of Gennesaret

Sounds like the makings of true revival to me!

Jesus looked around.

“He saw at the water’s edge two boats,
left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets.”
Luke 5: 2

Historians say there would have been 4,000 fishing boats along the shore on that particular day. Jesus took note of two of them!

Jesus has a purpose for everything. He approaches Simon and asks him to push from shore. Here Jesus would have a safe place to teach from in nature’s amphitheater to project his voice. The weary fisherman became a captive audience of one within arm’s reach of “the Master” who made fish and water.

Hopelessness Revealed

“When he had finished speaking,
he said to Simon,
“Put out into deep water,
and let down the nets for a catch.”
Luke 5:4

I can imagine the look on Simon’s face as Jesus pulled back the obstructing veil between possible and impossible.

In the Wilderness - the heat of the day

The hopeless know all too well the detailed facts weighing them down! Deep water? Simon had been out in deep water for hour after long fruitless hour. The failure to catch even one single fish had been rehearsed in his mind all morning. His discouragement was amplified through his frayed emotions and a fatigued body. He admits defeat,

“Master, we’ve worked hard all night
and haven’t caught anything..”
Luke 5:5

We’ve worked hard! We’ve worked long!

Moments seem like hours, slowly ticking by as we

fight for marriages, health or a prodigal’s return
believing against hope
unmoved by the well-aimed arrows of the enemy…
and yet, it produced nothing
Here we stand with empty nets and hands…

How long has it been since hope was a consistent reality? What the darkness of night didn’t rob, the heat of the day has drained away.

Nevertheless

The King James Version says, “Nevertheless“. I love it! Nevertheless! My NIV says, “But!”

But because you say so,”
Luke 5:5

This one little word means “by way of opposition and distinction. It is added to statements opposed to a preceding statement.” The previous statement held the facts, “but” the Truth looked beyond Simon’s eyes to his weary soul.

Jesus’ request made no sense at all! If you can’t catch fish after working ALL night, how can one possibly hope to succeed in broad daylight!

Fishing night and day

“But because you say so, I will” 

One definition of insanity is doing what you have always done expecting different results.

Simon surrendered to Jesus in the depth of his hopelessness. A man’s inability to provide for himself and his family leaves him with a sense of inadequacy and failure.

As I examine my life, I have to ask,

Where am I feeling the deepest sense of inadequacy and failure?
A relationship, a challenging position, a difficult task,
a terminal prognosis….
Where is God inviting me to enter into “the deep” and try again?

What Jesus is asking of me at times seems impossible, unreasonable, and beyond my capacity to fulfill!

Will I like Simon say,

Master
But because you say so, I will” 

Obedience? Yes, obedience. The outcome is God’s part; obeying is mine.

“When they had done so,
they caught such a large number of fish
that their nets began to break.
So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them,
and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.”
Luke 5:6-7

Insane maybe! Nevertheless, Simon’s act of obedience in the face of the impossible set him up for a miracle of maximum capacity. The nets could hold no more! Not one more fish!

Fear

Our greatest ally can be fear, as it draws us into a reverent submission and worship. Having his hopelessness uncovered was one thing! The grace of God exposed every sinful point.

“He fell at Jesus’ knees and said,
“Go away from me,
Lord’ I am a sinful man!”
Luke 5:8

I can relate!

Just recently there was far more month than paycheck. I had no tangible way of meeting a mortgage payment. Many times I had prayed for provision. Each day looked bleaker than the day before. In the morning I tearfully vented my frustration and honestly processed the hopeless and helpless position I was in.

The evening of that same day, God’s grace broke through in miraculous fashion. Now I found myself on my face repenting for my lack of faith and trust.  In the awareness of undeserved favour, tears of gratitude flowed unhindered.

Godly fear draws us close to Jesus; paralyzing fear keeps us from Him and all He has for us. Click To Tweet

Godly fear draws us close to Jesus; paralyzing fear keeps us from Him and all He has for us. Crippling and isolating fears of

failure, bankruptcy or death,
commitment or intimacy,
abandonment or rejection,
wasted life and purpose,
not finishing well or pleasing God.

A dry and lonely place

“Then Jesus said to Simon,
Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.
So they pulled their boats up on shore,
left everything and followed him.”
Luke 5:10-11

Simon left the sea and the life he knew well. It was a life that prepared him for what was to come.

Never Again!

Jesus helped Simon to confront his fears, failures and hopelessness. Simon’s obedience became a life transforming moment.

Never again would Simon fish for a living. From now on he would serve God. Jesus gave Simon what he thought he wanted, so he would discover what he really needed. The Saviour came calling; Simon responded,

“But because you say so, I will” 

“But!” The little word that sits between two opposing realities!

“With man this is impossible,
but with God all things are possible.”
Matthew 19:26

The impossible of man becomes the I Am possible of God!

The impossible of man becomes the I AM possible of God! Click To Tweet

The path upward

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Further Reading: Meeting God in the Ordinary – From Common to Holy

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Childlike! Change and Become Like a Little Child

The bible challenges us to maturity. Yet, without contradiction, Jesus emphasizes the importance of possessing childlike qualities in our relationships with God and others.

“And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 18:3

Simple Faith!

As a new Christian, my Sunday School Superintendent asked if I would be willing to teach a group of two and three-year old children. I quickly learned what a dozen children can do with scissors and glue in a short amount of time! But I learned so much more!

Faith Trust

Children receive and believe with open heart and hand the love of God; they absorb truth like a dry sponge.

The older we get the more reasoning and intellect can hinder us from receiving in faith God’s love for us and His gift of salvation. It seems too simplistic, too easy, for most adults. A child, however, will believe with unquestioning faith biblical truth.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God,
because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists
and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
Hebrews 11:6

Though fundamental to our Christian walk, having a childlike faith is perhaps the hardest to regain. Yet, it is absolutely necessary!

Joyous Expectation! Hope!

A friend related this true story of her little niece:

One day she awoke excited and asked with great anticipation, “Is today the day I get a bunny rabbit?”

Her parents had never heard her request or had in any way suggested they would gift her with a rabbit, so they were quite surprised.

Later that afternoon, she excitedly bounced into the house after school, “Is my bunny here? Did it come today?”

The next day was a repeat! She couldn’t contain her enthusiasm, “Is today the day? Is my bunny coming today?”

After school, she was anxious to play with her new pet, “Is my bunny here? Was today the day my bunny came?”

Expectation Hope

Day after day, week after week, month after month, her excitement and joyous anticipation never wavered! Every morning she was sure “today” would be the day her beautiful pet would arrive! Every afternoon, she had unwavering hope that today was “the day“.

Finally, months later her joy was complete; a little rabbit awaited her when she arrived home from school.

As the story was being shared with my friend, her young niece was giggling in an adjacent room as she played with her bunny. This story clearly illustrates the anticipation and hope that we are called to.

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen;
it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”
Hebrews 11:1

The character and nature of our Heavenly Father is good all the time! Everything He has for us is good! When we come to Him, we can expect He will respond out of His absolute goodness.

“You are good, and what you do is good…”
Psalm 119:68

The character and nature of our Heavenly Father is good all the time! Click To Tweet

Like a little child, we can confidently hope in God, the Source and fullness of all that is good. Out of His nature, He generously gives all that is good.

Wonder!

When our granddaughter with young, she had a fascination for all creatures, but especially ladybugs.  By spending time with a children, the wonder of creation can be re-ignited in us too.

Wonder

Creation has the ability to point us to The CreatorAs a matter of fact, creation so clearly directs us to God that we are “without excuse!”

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities
—his eternal power and divine nature—
have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made,
so that people are without excuse.”
Romans 1:20

We are invited to slow our pace and see God in His creation, regaining a childlike desire to know, examine and understand more fully everything around us.

God is not intimidated by our questions. He never grows weary of our curious wonder while believing Him for the impossible and unexplainable.

Simply Childlike

The next time we have opportunity to spend time with a child may we see it as God’s invitation to ask which childlike attributes He might want to revive in us:

  • vulnerability and trust
  • abandon and joy
  • curiosity and capacity to learn and grow
  • ability to forgive quickly and fully
  • love without reservation

Childlike

No matter how old we may be, it is wise to regain the childlike qualities we have lost, placing our hands into the hands of our Father and allowing Him to lead the way.

Regain the childlike qualities we may have lost! Click To Tweet

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Another thought: Hebrews 11:1 “Now Faith Is”

“The Tomb is the Womb of the Resurrection!” Jesus is Alive!

Tomb Resurrection - Jesus is Alive

I honestly cannot remember when I first heard the phrase, “The tomb is the womb of the resurrection!” However, the thought never grows old with me! JESUS IS ALIVE!

When death has won
and ALL hope is gone…
When impossibilities loom large
and odds are so slim they cannot be measured…
When the dullest day lengthens
into the blackest night
RESURRECTION COMES!

As if resurrection isn’t enough in itself; follow it on the heals of Friday and the contrast sets hearts to soar and feet to dance. Who would have imaged? Who could have comprehended?

Resurrection

Though Jesus foretold his death and resurrection many times, even those closest to Him did not grasp the truth until it happened. That’s where we join hands with the followers of biblical times. It is often in the looking back that everything becomes clear.

“He appeared in the flesh,
was vindicated by the Spirit,
seen by angels,
preached among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.”
I Timothy 3:16

Who is unchanged when touched by the resurrection? The final hold out, death, has been defeated! The enemy of all has been brought down!

Death Defeated

The resurrection shouts, “Jesus is the Son of God! He has dominion over all! Because He won, we win!” Yes it is shouting time., “He is ALIVE!”

 “Death has been swallowed up by victory!”
I Corinthians 15:54

So what is the “tomb” you are facing? What has drained you of all hope and shut the light far from view? It’s alright – name it:

abuse, bankruptcy, cancer,
depression, extreme fatigue,
great hostility, injustice, jealousy…
the list is longer than the alphabet!

The Name of Jesus is higher than any other name! Why? Because of the death and resurrection! His life was powerful, His death greater still, but His resurrection is the crowning glory!

“I want to see Jesus get the glory for all He paid for on the cross.”
Chris Gore

Answered prayer

From the Tomb – Resurrection! Jesus is Alive!

In my little life I have witnessed the resurrection power of Christ in a many ways:

  • migraines disappear never to return
  • cancer removed
  • legs grow out
  • deaf ears opened
  • bell’s palsy instantly healed
  • allergies gone
  • ovarian cysts removed
  • one young woman experiencing numbness in her face and ringing in the ears after being hit by a baseball bat 3 years prior completely healed
  • one man had constant back pain for 12 years following an accident – pain instantly and completely gone
  • one woman who had several vertebrae in he spine fused together with medical rods now could bend and move with freedom – a man with rods in his foot and couldn’t walk normally or run at all instantly began to walk with a smooth gate and run around the parking lot
  • a teenage who slid headlong into the boards while playing hockey compressed his entire spine and was in constant excruciating pain, then immediately pain free
  • more than one couple restored after going through separation and divorce

All these and more are an answer to prayer! The list is far shorter than what I could tell! There is no end to what Jesus can and will do! Though all prayer is not answered the way I hope, I believe for the resurrection power to bring Jesus the glory He paid for and deserves.

We pay God great honour by asking large. Let us not ask small!

It is time to celebrate, “Jesus is alive!” Death can not defeat him; the grave can not hold him. Jesus is alive and active even today!


 Come Lord

Lord we welcome you!
We know You are here already,
reveal your goodness
your power and glory in our day!
Show your love and favour
to those who need your light and
your life to filter into their
difficult and hopeless situations.
May the power of your resurrection invade
breathing the possible into our impossibilities.
We celebrate your life!
We proclaim your victory!