exceeding expectations

Expectation. It seems like a scary word as this year comes to a close. I wonder how many of your expectations were met this year. Or rather, how many were left behind? How many of your hopes, plans, and dreams from January had to be put on the back burner? Did your capacity for hope slowly start to shrink over the course of these past few months?

To put it in a smaller perspective, what kind of gifts were you expecting to receive that you didn’t open on Christmas morning this year? Maybe it was the new PS5, an engagement ring, or a nice bonus? But instead was it a broken heart or an empty bank account? Have you felt empty? Looking for God, but unable to hear from Him?

This year has been exceedingly difficult for so many of us in different ways. But here is the good news, hope is no longer deferred! The greatest gift of all came in form that matched no one’s expectations for the Savior of the world. Perfect hope came as a fragile child, wrapped in burial clothes. Perfect hope died and disappeared before His Resurrection. Perfect hope is alive in you and I still today. Perfect hope is at work two thousand and twenty years later. Perfect hope gives us the option to put our expectations in something solid, Someone unshakable.

Recently, I’ve felt lost in my walk. Lost in my purpose. I’ve felt like I can’t get my feet on solid ground for more than twenty minutes at a time. When this happens, I know it’s a sign that I need to immerse myself in His Presence. This means I need to start listening to sermons and worship music. It means I need to armor up in the Word and prayer. I have about a thirty minute drive to work each morning (praise report that I have a job) so I have plenty of time for worship. On my way to work last week, I was listening to a sermon by Christine Caine and she said something so profound, “your ceiling is God’s floor.”

This year, I’ve seen a lot of my expectations crumble at my feet. The places and people where I put my worth were no longer accessible to me. I had expectations of friendships lasting for the rest of my life. I had expectations of graduating. I had expectations of joy. I had expectations of abundance. But I had expectations that were limited to what I could do on my own. I recently finished a program with Ashely from The Honey Scoop about healing familial wounds and yesterday, she reminded me of a verse that’s going to be my anchor for 2021.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,  to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (NKJV)

Wherever there are expectations, there are limits. We had expectations of how this year would be. Maybe you expected to be married by this time, but instead you had your heart broken. Maybe you expected to have a degree, but now you have an extra semester. Maybe you expected to see justice prevail, but instead corruption took place. Maybe you expected to have your dream job, but now you’re sleeping in your childhood bedroom. Whatever it was that you expected would happen this year that didn’t, I’m sure it wasn’t pretty for you. At the very least, my own expectations broke my heart.

Expectations and failures are nothing new to the human race. Redirections have been at work since Adam and Eve had to leave Eden. On Christmas morning, I listened to a sermon from Craig Groeschel and he said something that stuck with me, “our disappointments can be divine appointments from God.” You see, Eve was not expecting that her line would give birth to the Savior after she disappointed God. Mary was not expecting to give birth from the seed of the Spirit. Shepherds did not expect that they would be among the first to meet the Savior. But God.

The one truth about this messy life is that our God able to do exceedingly and abundantly more. He chose to save us, though the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). When we hurt others, our expectation is that they will walk away. We hurt God every single day. Instead of leaving us to deal with our consequences, as He very well could, Jesus was born in a manger and killed on a cross. We excepted that our Savior would come in earthly glory because our minds are so often limited. Instead, God came humbly for His glory.

God’s deliverance on His promises have always exceeded my expectations. I don’t know about you, but at the beginning of 2020, I was still living this empty life. I was half in, half out. I know that this pandemic has brought so much destruction. I have been fortunate enough to not lose anyone close to me, and my heart goes out to you if you have. I do not in any way wish to diminish the disappointments of this year. Last year around this time, I was a walking zombie. I was self medicating with boys and Bacardi (check out Katie Bulmer for that reference). I didn’t fully believe that God could actually redeem me. My expectations for my life were limited. I thought at the very best, I would be working a 9-5 after graduating, in a lackluster marriage, and maybe a few kids. But that’s the thing, my disappointments over the past few years: a breakup, an extra year in undergrad, a lockdown have all made room for God to interrupt my life. He placed a new fire in me. Does that mean that there haven’t been hard days and challenges? No, but I know Who goes before me, beside me, and behind me.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Romans 8:28 (NLT)

I don’t know exactly what it is that God has planned for me, but I know that it is good because I love Him. He promises this. He has promised this to you too, among many other beautiful things. He has promised us a living hope. He has promised to break our expectations so that He can do exceedingly and abundantly more than we could ever imagine because He is all powerful. He is all loving. He is perfect when our lives are not. He has not promised us that it will be easy, but He has promised to give us strength in the trials. And He has promised that no weapon formed against us shall prosper (Isaiah 54:17). I don’t know what weapons have been formed against you in this lifetime, but I know God can break them. I don’t know how He is going to show up and show out for you, but I do know He has promised to bless you. You just have to let Him. My invitation for you is this: stop putting limits on a limitless God and allow Him to move in your life!

Remember that you are immeasurably and unconditionally loved no matter who you are!

Keep picking those daisies!

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