I suppose I could call this post “Great Expectations Part Four” because I wish to address a statement I made in my previous post. I said that I “did not expect specifics” and I wanted to elaborate because I do not expect specifics and yet I do, of course, expect specifics. Confused? Allow me to attempt to elaborate.
I do not have a vague prayer life. My prayer life does not consist of saying to my Heavenly Father, “Well, thy will be done” by which is inferred: “You’re going to do whatever You’re going to do anyway and I just hope You give me the strength to accept whatever happens.” No! I’ve been quoting 2 Corinthians 1:20-all the promises of God are ‘yes’ in Christ Jesus-and the promises throughout the entire bible are wonderfully specific. Neither does my prayer life consist of magic formulas. What do I mean by that? I do not pray to an aloof God who is so busy with other far more important problems than mine that I have to try to get His attention, convince Him to do something for me, and strong arm Him into answering me by saying “in Jesus’ name, Amen.” Again, no! My prayer life is better described as talking to my Heavenly Father. It’s conversation held in relationship. I have very specific cares which, through prayer, I cast on Him because He cares for me (1 Peter 5:7).
This is the greatest truth ever revealed to my wondering heart and, despite all my study and prayer and searching to know the heart of my Father, it is one I barely grasp. He Loves Me. He cares for me. He Loves You. If you doubt this and John 3:16 and especially verse 17 isn’t enough for you, I encourage you to read First, Second, and Third John. Done? Welcome back! Because I know He loves me, I know I can bring any worry, anxiety, happening, question, and desire to Him and trust Him with it.
One of the greatest examples of what I’m trying to make clear here is the story related in Luke chapter 24 verses 13-35. I’m sure we’ve all heard it: it’s after Jesus’ crucifixion and all hope has been dashed to pieces. Two of the disciples are travelling to Emmaus, conversing and reasoning with each other. Then, Jesus Himself is walking with them though they do not recognize Him. It’s so exciting. I never get tired of reading it. The two ask Jesus if he’s the only one in Jerusalem unaware of what’s been happening. Now, there are so many things I would have expected the Risen Son of God to do in that moment. No doubt this would be the perfect time to open their eyes to the truth of who He was but Jesus does not. Instead, He asks “What things?” He doesn’t need to ask. No one knows better than He what has really happened but He asks questions, draws them out, and only after they’ve spilled their guts does He begin to speak.
I know there is not one thought I have, have had, or will ever have that is not already known to the One who knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). And yet He asks me “what things?” and invites me to spill my guts. And so, my prayer life is very specific. It is my expectations as to how He is going to answer me and reveal Himself to me where I have learned to not be specific. I expect an answer: I do not expect how that answer will come.
I don’t spend a great deal of time in Lamentations but there are some beautiful verses in it. In chapter 3 verses 22-24 I read; “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Thy faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I hope in Him.’” The Hebrew word my New King James Version translates as “compassions” is defined in my Strong’s Concordance as meaning “favor, blessing, loving-kindness”. These verses put succinctly what I am struggling to say. Because He loves me I know it’s safe to tell Him anything. I know I can expect answers but I also know I can expect to be surprised at how He chooses to answer me. He won’t ever do the same thing twice.
I cannot count how many times I’ve heard it said God does not fit in a box. I know this to be true. He’s terrifying…in the best sense of that word. I cast my cares on Him and await His response with fear (awe) and trembling (excitement). I also expect that the answer I receive might be to a question I didn’t think to ask. Why does this happen?
I don’t know. But, I wonder if it isn’t like sitting down with an architect and going over the blueprints to a fabulous building. I can barely contain myself as the architect takes me through the plans, shows me how much progress has been made, and shows me the end result. The architect has samples of the planned materials and I’m so excited by the color and style of the roof I insist on its installation. The architect tells me I have to wait because the walls aren’t up yet and I ask why because the corner pillars are in place: surely that’s enough to support the roof. The architect very gently tells me I have no idea how to put a building together but if I will trust him, he will see it through.
Perhaps this is a weak analogy but it came to mind last week during a teaching I was listening to and it made sense to me. I thought I’d share it here in case it made sense to any of you.
Truly the Lord is my portion. Great is His faithfulness and my expectancy is in Him.