Raising kids. Keeping House. Choosing joy, every day.

Long Expected Jesus

Long Expected Jesus

Expectancy. To expect. To look forward to. To anticipate.

Some say that expectations are little more than premeditated resentments.

I guess we learn from living in a broken world that it’s safer not to expect too much, not to set our hearts on anything, not to hope.

Have you ever hung your hope on something that disappointed you in the end?A diet? A job? A vacation? A church? A relationship? A new home?

Have these experiences caused you to temper your expectations of God, for fear of being disappointed? Have we become cynical like Rachel Lynde who exclaimed, “Blessed are they who expect nothing for they shall not be disappointed.”

For me, this week has been full of Christmas expectancy, as I prepare for my son to fly home for vacation. We’ve been baking and planning for days. I can’t wait to have him in the house again with his easy personality and wonderful sense of humor.  Then Rebekah and Peter come home and again, I’m looking forward to a house bursting at the seams with people and love.

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Expectancy can be a shot of hope.

Or it can bring dread.

If you know that the days ahead hold pain–because of an impending divorce, or a loved one on hospice, or a yearly Christmas visit with a family member who has brought you so much pain, your heart weighs heavy. That kind of expectancy can paralyze you. It can pre-occupy your heart and distract your mind and steal your joy.

So what is expectancy?

Expectancy is simply the space in between. The right now as we wait.

Are you waiting now? Perhaps for

  • A health issue to improve?
  • A church problems to resolve?
  • Money as you try to care for your kids alone when child support is no where to be found?
  • Court dates and custody battles?
  • Wayward children to return home?
  • One friend in a season of loneliness?
  • An addict to get clean?
  • A boss to do the right thing?

More importantly, how are you waiting for these things?

Is your hope set on a specific outcome or on God’s will being done?

If we cling, white-knuckled, to something that God is stripping away from us for a good reason, our expectancy is an idol, putting us at odds with the heart of God.

I’ve found that in a broken world, my heart clings too easily to broken things that can never satisfy. I want that job to give me satisfaction or that relationship to give me validation. I expect too much and plant my hope firmly in the wrong places.

Until God pulls the rug out from underneath my idol in His grace.

He lets me fall, then lifts me up, taking my face in His hands and putting my focus back on Him where it should have been all along.

He brings me back in love to a place where my hands are wide open, willing and trusting to receive good from Him.

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Here, Lord, Take it.

Or Yes, Lord, I’ll receive even that.

That’s where the real joy comes from.

I think many Christians have lost hope. We don’t expect much and we’re not disappointed.  We’ve taken the safe route of hedging our words, crafting our own stories, and controlling our own experiences. We’ve been burned before and we’ll never let that happen again. We surround ourselves with walls, expecting that self-sufficiency will protect our hearts. Except that we suffocate ourselves in the process of shutting hope out.

Expectancy for the Christian woman is an attitude of acknowledging the Truth of the promises of God.

Christian women know that hope is a gospel imperative. If the gospel has changed us, and God’s Spirit has done a work in us, then we can release others to the Holy Spirit  to allow Him to change them as well. Cynicism can never rule the hope-filled heart.

We have hope:

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;

Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body…

Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.

For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.

For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

During this season of Advent, a season of preparation, reflection, and hope, may our expectancy be tethered to the finished work of Christ on our behalf. Though situations may fluctuate between good and bad, let us count them all joy because God came to us in our mess,

God with us, Immanuel.

God initiated a relationship with us, and

He makes a way for permanent restoration and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

He points us to His Son as not only payment for sin but as the Ultimate Prize.

God isn’t like any other relationship we’ve known. He won’t disappoint or under-deliver. He’ll always exceed our expectations.

May my expectancy be tethered to the Source of all joy and not to my own ideas and outcomes.

Come, thou long expected Jesus.

So in this season of expectancy, as we work in our kitchens,  shop for our loved ones, tying ribbons here and tucking greens in there,  getting everything just so,

let’s remember that whether the roast burns or the cake falls,  or the kids don’t like their gifts, or the furnace dies, or the family gets sick, our hope isn’t hanging on a perfect Christmas Day or a flawless celebration.

Whether you are lonely at Christmas, or your meal is ruined by a thoughtless comment at the Christmas table, let’s live in the reality and anticipation of our future home and face to face relationship with Christ.

Let’s let other people off our hook, and let’s place our hope in the Gospel promises.

Expectancy is about waiting well, and knowing a Good Father.

In hope or doom, love or fear, joy or sorrow, the truth is the same: Christ came to save sinners. He is with you. He loves you and that love can never, ever, ever end. He has only good intentions toward you.

That should fill us with wonder and great joy.