On one dark and rainy morning, I was finally able to join a small group of believers who had been meeting weekly at a local church to pray for revival of our community, our city, and our nation.
One of the men prayed, “Father, bring us into the fullness of Your expectation.” I love that! What must be the fullness of God’s expectation? The very words produced an immediate sense of joy, anticipation, and hope somewhere deep down inside.
The words also reminded me of the beautiful August day when my husband and I shared our wedding vows. Following the ceremony, Dad, with tears in his eyes, looked into our eyes and said, “Expect little. Give much.” These four little words have served as a present help in my life. They’ve spurred me into prayer, submission, and finally surrender.
Time and time again, I discovered I had formed an expectation in my mind and had become frustrated when my dear hubby failed to pour himself into the mold I had created for him. I don’t know about you, but I’m envisioning one of those Jello molds about now. So glad I didn’t marry a glob of Jello.
Expectations are a funny thing, and often disappointing. I’ve even found myself having ill-gotten expectations of God. You know it’s bad when you actually need to forgive God for falling down on the job. I’ve been there. It’s embarrassing and humbling to admit it. “I forgive you God for not meeting my expectations.” (Something is desperately wrong with this picture.)
According to John 2, many trusted Jesus when they saw the signs He was doing in Jerusalem. “Jesus, however, would not entrust Himself to them, since He knew them all, and because He did not need anyone to testify about man; for He Himself knew what was in man” (24-25, HCSB).
He knew about the silly little Jello molds. He knew we would all be prone to wander around aimlessly in desert places, complaining about His provision and searching endlessly for quick and temporary ways to satisfy ourselves. He knew the signs meant to lead us into a deep, meaningful, sacrificial love would become stakes in the ground marking the border of our surrender – bronze serpents to worship.
When His provision is loss, betrayal, grief and pain, His mercy is no less overwhelming, His grace no less amazing.
Therefore, the Lord longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.O people in Zion, inhabitant in Jerusalem, you will weep no longer. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you. Although the Lord has given you bread of privation and water of oppression, He, your Teacher will no longer hide Himself, but your eyes will behold your Teacher. Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left. And you will defile your graven images overlaid with silver, and your molten images plated with gold. You will scatter them as an impure thing, and say to them, “Be gone!” (Isaiah 30:18-22, NASB)
While this passage was specific to Jewish wanderers, we can discern the Father’s heart toward us as well. The Israelites wanted a sign to worship and an intermediate to communicate on their behalf; God wanted so much more. He expects so much more! And in God’s expectations, we can trust.
I am always moved with emotion when I read Jesus’ prayer for future believers in John 17 just hours before His death on that wretched, beautiful cross. How wonderful to have such a cherished glimpse into our Lord’s desire for us. He knew this prayer could be answered because He was about to accomplish it. He was about to do exactly what He came to do. His hour had finally come.
The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one;I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.
O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me;and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them (John 17:22-26, NASB).
Where are the obstacles in this picture? Where are the roadblocks to intimacy with this loving God? What if we knocked down the stakes marking the borders of our surrender? What if we let go of our expectations and threw our arms wide open, welcoming His expectations for us? Could we hold back the waves of revival in our hearts?
What if we really did pray, “Father, bring us into the fullness of Your expectation?”