Expecting the very best.
If you've found yourself walking through some shadows of difficulty or discouragement in recent days, you're not alone. Sometimes the circumstances I'm facing really do leave me feeling afraid and confused and disoriented. It's understandable because there's no shortage of pain in the world, and I don't think there ever has been. But I think there's more to it than that. I think there's something else that really is in short supply, and it's affecting how I think and feel a lot more than I realize or would even want to admit to myself.
The truth is I've got a problem with expectations. You probably do, too. The problem isn't that I've been expecting too much. My problem is that I have been expecting far too little way too much of the time. It's a subtle thing. I may expect family members to behave the way they always have. I expect people to disappoint me. I expect leaders to fail me. I even expect God to behave in ways that are impossible because they go completely against his nature.
Somewhere along the way I've bought into the notion that all the brokenness and disappointment from the past and present that surrounds me in so many ways is somehow a barometer for what I can really hope for in the future. In reality it's simply not true. It's not just a little not true. I'm suggesting to you that on the landscape of lies believed this one may be of mountainous proportions. Think about it. It's not just a problem with how I think and feel at the moment. It's more than that. It's actually a problem with my orientation in time and space. I live in the present but regrettably more often than not, I'm actually guided much more by the past than I am by the future. It makes sense when you really think about it. When a bad experience in the past really impacts me, it affects how I look at my present circumstances in a significant way. Even if it's a really negative experience, it feels concrete like a dependable reference. That creates an even bigger problem because it deeply informs what I feel like I can expect in the future. It often becomes the filter for my future expectations. How I see the future is a big deal because God is very focused on my future. You might say He's obsessed with it. I guess he has a right to feel that way since He's been there. How can someone say, "I know the plans I have for you...." unless they've seen the real results of what they were planning?
What if my distraction with the past is what's actually complicating my process here in the present and in the future as well? What if all I have to do to completely change where I'm walking now and where I'm headed in the future is to begin to expect something better than I've ever seen up to this point? What if I began to expect not just something better, but the best, the brightest and most wonderful and happiest and most glorious future that I could imagine. I know I can't discount my own suffering and the misery I see sitting at the street corner. That's not really the point. God isn't asking me to ignore the shadows around me. He's asking me to do an exchange. Exchange the shadows of my past disappointments and present discouragement for something astonishingly bright and brilliant and wonderful and yet unseen but soon to be revealed.
In the word's of Ebenezer Scrooge, "Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of the things that May be only?" Perhaps in similar fashion God is actually giving me the opportunity to decide.
Scripture to consider - Jeremiah 29:11 - 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. (NIV)
As you walk this journey today, How have your expectations for what you've been longing to see been colored by what you've already seen or experienced?
How have you lowered your expectations of others and God to avoid being disappointed?
How can you allow God to change your orientation from being present/past focused to being present/future focused?
What would the future look like if you allowed your expectations of what could be to run wild?
How will you invite God to guide you in this endeavor of expecting?
"Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today."
― Mark Twain
“To wish was to hope, and to hope was to expect”
― Jane Austen
There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something better tomorrow. ― Orison Swett Marden
"The quality of our expectations determines the quality of our action."
― A. Godin
“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
A simple prayer for Expecting:
Father, I thank you that my past does not define my future. Would you allow me to see my past and present through your eyes and would you cause my expectations for the future to match what you hold for me in your heart? Give me a new hope and great expectations for what you are doing and about to do. I confess that my expectations can never exceed your goodness and your glorious plans.