“Expect it to be different from whatever you expect it to be.”
That quote is one of the sagest pieces of advice I was given before I moved to Africa for the first time. I have found it useful in many other areas of life way beyond cross cultural living. How much of our lives do we spend rehearsing events and conversations in our minds only to find our assumptions are off the mark when the time comes?
For example: If we look back a couple of years, who in the world expected us to have a President Donald Trump in the White House? Regardless of what you think of the man, he defied all conventional wisdom, all expectations. That’s only one example of things not being as we expect. It is both good and important to know God is not ignorant of our circumstances, globally, nationally and personally or physically, emotionally and spiritually.
How does, “expect it to be different,” apply to our spiritual lives? Did anyone expect the Messiah to come when & especially how he did? “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” John 1:46
Human expectation demanded He be a King. One clothed in splendor. Instead, he came, clothed as the son of an average carpenter, not even as a recognizable priest or king! He was not even recognized as Messiah by his closest followers until the end of his time on earth. And then Thomas, one of the 12, needed physical proof.
Why talk about expectations? Things are not always as they seem. I have written on shifts, and shadows before. Again, I sense we are entering a different spiritual season. One that will be hard to miss, but it can be easily mis-interpreted if we are not open to hearing from our Creator.
We can look at our circumstances up close, as we might normally do, or we can step back, way back, to “see” our spiritual surroundings. What is Creator up to? Isaiah 43 tells of new things, and I think we are there again. [Emphasis mine.]
18 “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
I have seen the African Sahel change in a day from what seemed like an arid wasteland after six months with no precipitation. Then one day, after one rain, there was a verdant carpet of life springing out of the ground everywhere! I did not expect that to be possible.
So what are we looking for? That’s just the point, we don’t know what to expect. So rather than looking for signs, let’s look to the one who made us. Let’s read the Bible, follow Jesus, and ask questions then sit quietly to listen for the answers.
If you hear accusations, that is not of God.
But if you feel conviction for something specific, that is the Holy Spirit. Agree with God and turn from it.
If you hear instruction in line with the Word, obey.
Then join me in one of my favorite prayers when I have direction and discernment questions:
Abba, I don’t know exactly what I should expect, but thank you in advance That you will let me know when I find it and what to do when I get there. Thank you for being more interested in me understanding and doing what you want than I am.
There is so much more to this topic, but for now let’s seek the face of God. Let’s deepen our intimacy so we can be ready when we face the unexpected.