FAITH VS. EXPECTATION


My car started flawlessly today. But then again, I expected it to.

I drove to work, encountered a few selfish drivers, but got to my building in one piece. I’d been out sick the day before, but my job was waiting for me when I arrived. I had a few stressful moments with problem cases early in the morning. But by quitting time, they’d mostly unraveled. 

I hate to say it, but deep down, I think I expected that too.

I got home, fixed supper and enjoyed the cool temperature of my apartment, loved on my pet cat, and enjoyed my favorite early evening programs.

And yes, I took every bit of it for granted.

There was a time (more than one time) when I was  homeless. There was a time when I had distanced myself from even those family and friends who still wanted to have something to do with me.

There was a time when spoiled, I shook an angry tantruming fist at the universe. I blamed everyone but the real cause (me and my choices) on everything which was wrong in my life. What was really wrong? Expectations.

I had a very loving aunt, who wisely, after a few years, just couldn’t deal with my spoiled brat behavior anymore, and cut ties. I haven’t seen or talked to her since shortly before I came to Kentucky.

In times since, I’ve tried to apologize, and let her know that I am no longer the person she knew. I have gotten no response. At first, this upset me, then, gradually I understood. My expectation of her was for her to act like our loving God, who can forgive all, and not as a human who had been burned one too many times. 

When she was trying to reason with me years back, she said one word when I was voicing what I wanted from others. Sadly, gently, the word was ‘Expectations.’

These days, the loss of that relationship with her keeps me grounded. Although I will always wish for reconciliation, it took that loss to pull me out of my selfishness. To understand what that selfishness had lost me. A funny, loving woman who could make me laugh when no one else could. A woman whose pain had made her wise. Her struggles had shown her how to love–but also when to let go and love from a distance.

This morning, as I drove to work, one of my favorite radio evangelists, Allastir Begg, was on, and his first words when I turned on the radio was all about the difference between faith and expectation. And it nearly blew me out of the driver’s seat.

We take a lot for granted in this world. We expect a lot. I take for granted that I am going to wake up from an afternoon nap, or that the world as I know it will be in existence tomorrow. Some would call that faith. But is it?

Am I, much like the spoiled adult/child that I very recently was (and still can be) faithful? Or am I just going through life complacently expecting everything to go on as it has done?

The answer may lie in how I will fly off the handle when my plans go awry. I am not a patient person. And one thing my closest friends frequently call me out on is my tendency to jump to conclusions, rather than take a deep breath and wait for the dust to settle when things go wrong. 

Faith is when everything is up in the air, blown to bits, and we trust that things will settle down, and we will understand. Faith is when we love God in the storm, not in our warm beds when all is well with our lives. Faith is when our expectations of what a good life should be just don’t happen. Faith is when we walk alone with God because a cherished relationship has evaporated. Faith is what we have when we literally have nothing else.

Today, I woke up, and expected things to go a certain way.  As challenges came, I wanted to throw one of my special ‘fits’ (as adult temper tantrums are called in my home state of Alabama.) But I am learning that such fits, borne of disappointed expectations do nothing but delay the dealing with the actual problem issues. 

Today, if I choose faith, I choose to lose my expectation that everything continue to go as it has gone in the past. I also lose my expectation that everything will go as I think it should.

Choosing faith means, that in all parts of my life, I trust God to bring meaning in the good, the okay and the terrible. 

Faith means that I wait for God and learn to desire his will for me. Learn that God truly has my best at heart. Learn that seeking God’s expectations (and not my own) truly brings me to a better place.

Faith means taking a step towards a place that may be totally different than what I think I want, or have ever known. Expectation means clinging to what I think is right or good when it is in God’s heart to give me infinitely more.

Amen. 

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