God is in the Not
Expectation. “A strong belief that something will happen” (so says Webster’s Dictionary). I’d offer, we generally take it further. We not only believe it will happen, but we list out HOW, WHEN, and WHERE. We define the outcome. Once the occasion has come, we hold it up to our expectations and scrutinize as if looking at a counterfeit bill with squinted eyes.
Our expectations (although good at times) can be a distraction.
Recently I went through some health issues, and still recovering. What an amazing learning season. As I was preparing for an upcoming surgery, I was rather anxious. Taking Paul’s divine inspired words to heart, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Phil 4:6, NIV). I prayed. I prayed specifically. I prayed the surgery would be “textbook.” I prayed with heartfelt longing. I wanted God’s best. I wanted Him.
Thanking God—off we went.
Following the surgery, the surgeons came in and said everything went well, one stated (without any prior prompting) “It was textbook.” (Check √). As some time went on, I grew exhausted. In my exhaustion, I picked up my “expectation list” and began to review it. Running my finger down the list, I was looking for that warm—wrapped—in—blanket—presence of God. I didn’t sense it. I had in the past. Where were You God? Where are You?
When we ask God pointed questions, be ready for an answer.
“Besides the textbook surgery (I can almost see God winking) … How was your pain level, were you in pain?” No, I was not. “Were there complications?” No, there was not. “Are the doctors concerned for the outcome?” Nope, they are not. “Will there be any long-term limitations?” No—not.
God is in the not.
So often we look for highlighting moments worthy to write in our journals. Things, events that stand out as extraordinary (There WILL be those). But, how often we fail to see, in the quiet, tucked behind our personal hype—God working. God orchestrating like only He can.
Through all this, I have asked God to move me beyond MY expectation, to true anticipation: awaiting, preparing, longing to see how HE moves. King David wrote: “Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul…I hide myself in You. Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; may Your good Spirit lead me on level ground” (Psalm 143:8-10). Putting my trust (unconditionally, without my advice) in God, WILL enable Him to “show me.” Giving myself, hiding myself in Him, enables Him to “teach me.”
THIS has been a “write in my journal” (if I had one) moment. Highlighted. Circled. Underlined. “Positioning ourselves according to OUR expectations distracts us, potentially missing God in the process.”
God is in the not.
Please know, YES, there are times we need to contend, to move beyond an appearing “No” (prayer, fasting, spiritual warfare) but there are times, we need to accept God working, giving Him glory.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds” – Hebrews 10:24).
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