Recently, the question, “Well, what did you expect from God?” has settled in and taken up residence in my prayer. God is beginning to reveal to me that my life, as a Christian, is full of expectancy—waiting on the Lord to fulfill His promises, always wondering to a certain extent what He’s about, hoping that He will reveal to me more of Himself. BUT, when I let that expectancy turn into expectation—when I have my heart set on something and begin to demand that God fulfill it the way I want and when I want—then I set myself up to be rather disappointed, frustrated, and probably unfulfilled.
Here’s the difference:
Expectancy involves open hands and an open heart; it’s a posture of waiting, especially waiting for the development of something. There is anticipation and excitement in the unknown, and joy in waiting for what is coming.
To expect something involves an underlying demand that requires fulfillment; so there is always concern about the thing that is expected. There’s always an element of striving, of reaching for something, and never quite feeling fulfilled—so there is usually a lack of freedom and a lack of joy in a waiting that seems to be taking forever.
(Here’s another side-observation: “expectancy” is a noun, whereas “to expect” is a verb. Just one more example that God is all about BEING rather than DOING.)
I’m learning that it is OK—good, even—to have desires. But, oh, how quickly can desires (even holy ones!) turn into expectations if I don’t offer them to Jesus! And then, how quickly can I move from a posture of expectancy to striving and expecting things.
When I start to expect things, it’s easier to believe the lies surrounding my life (nasty little things, always in my periphery…); when some expectation goes unmet, I’m all too ready to believe it’s because I’m not good enough, or not loved, or that I will always be chasing joy that I can’t have (p.s. ALL of those things are false).
But when I stop expecting, give that particular thing to God, and wait, with the expectancy that God will fulfill as He chooses, then He just makes things happen so easily. I mean…ridiculously easily. God just always has a better way, and is continuing to prove to me that He wants to provide. More than that—He doesn’t just want good things for me; HE wants to GIVE them to me. So I’m really trying to not expect things—only receive.
Mary, help my posture be one of expectancy—that I would not expect anything, but receive all things in the joy of receiving them from your Son. Be with me as I wait with expectancy for the Lord to fulfill His promises (like you did!) without knowing when, or how.