I can remember countless times in my life when something new or unexpected invaded my day and I instantly stirred with excitement. I wondered what God was up to, how he may be answering longstanding prayers of mine, and hoped that this could be it – the ministry, the job, the spouse, or the fresh season.
It’s natural that our expectancy gets stirred when the unexpected makes a visit or life’s seasons begin to change. When that suddenly pops into our midst or that decision is finally made, we are meant to feel charged by the possibilities in front of us.
Without much effort, our minds race with dreams over what will come of this relationship, upcoming move, or new job. We mentally begin charting the course for what could come and how it will look. We proclaim freely to anyone who will listen that we are ready to go where the winds take us.
But many times, the course takes a sharp turn. Although at first we are filled with vibrant expectancy for what God is doing, as the time passes and things don’t head in our anticipated direction, disappointment can settle in. And just like that we can move from excitement to discouragement to defeat.
Given the number of times it has happened in my own life, I am convinced of this: there is a flaw in the system.
Something is off if the beginning of God moving in a fresh way in our midst results in our own discouragement or, even worse, bitterness and offense in him.
So what gives?
Expectancy is a holy act of faith. It’s rooted in believing God at his word and that he will move no matter what we see before us. Keeping our eyes on the unseen and what lies ahead is staying expectant. As we traverse the unknown path, expectancy cheers, “Don’t get defeated by what’s before you or what you’re battling today. There’s something bigger to all of this. Keep moving and believing.”
The Bible is threaded with words urging us to be expectant. Expect the new, the good, the hard thing. Expect to persevere, to wait, and to be utterly amazed. God speaks his promises to us of what he intends to do through us. That’s why God’s people waited expectantly for him to come (Lk 3:15). They believed he would do what he said he would do.
Expectancy is built into active faith.
But, if we’re not careful, we can take that expectancy and build boundaries of expectations around it. We can load it down with expectations of how it’s to be packaged. The bricks laid by our own hands carry our terms of what should happen, how it will look, and when it will come.
And so, what was stirred by faith in God, now becomes gripped by our own control.
The hope of a new season, or an unexpected suddenly, is that God is up to something. But we veer off course when we start defining the form of that new thing.
When our expectancy becomes restrained by definitions, the fruit of those unanswered expectations is ugly. That’s when disappointment, offense, and bitterness start growing. And because we attach those expectations to God, the outcome becomes connected to him as well. So, with unmet expectations based on our own terms and definitions, we begin to see God as the one who lied, disappointed, or tricked us.
There is a different way, though. We are meant to live freely with promises that stir our expectancy without attaching boundaries and walls to define its form and time. While expectations confine us to control what’s happening, expectancy builds faith and hope for what God is doing and how he will do it.
Ditch the stuff that strangles life and freedom from God’s move in your season. And wait expectantly knowing this: he is moving and doing a new thing, and you will see his goodness in this land.
How do you preserve your expectancy without controlling it by expectations?