Expecting the Expected

“No matter how well we may know God, the great lesson to learn is that He may break in at any minute.”

How would life look if we lived in a constant state of expectancy?  If we made an effort to look for God’s presence and His fingerprints each and every day of our lives?  Because this is something I’ve been thinking about for a few weeks now, I didn’t want to just pose the question. I wanted to see it through and share the result, and let me tell y’all that there are results (praise Jesus).  So for the past week, my goal has been to “live in a constant state of holy expectancy.”  I wanted to seek the Lord first, depend on His promises, and expect that He will reveal Himself (in His way and in His time) in even the smallest moments…

*side notes- I only go through 5 days because if I did any more than that y’all would get tired of reading this post. (because God is good & I could go on and on about this topic)*


Day 1: Intent and attitude.  It’s only been one day, but it quickly became clear to me that holy expectancy begins with intent and attitude.  I must be intentional in seeking the Lord and expecting Him to do great things in my life.  My attitude must be one of humility and awe.  I must realize that I have no good thing apart from God, and I must believe in all that He is and was and will be.

Day 2: It’s day two, and y’all I’m kind of already shocked.  No shining lights from heaven or visits in the middle of the night from an angel, but I can honestly say that I cannot remember even a moment where an anxious thought held me captive.  This isn’t to say I didn’t have an anxious thought (the enemy knows my struggles well), but these thoughts didn’t linger and steal my peace.  This may not sound like a big revelation or victory, but for someone who has often struggled with worry/anxiety, there is no other explanation for the unhindered joy I’ve felt than God himself.

Day 3: The only word I can use to describe this day is joy.  Pure, not circumstantial, carefree joy, and it. feels. GREAT!  There is something so powerful about seeking the Lord’s presence and believing that He will be found each time I turn my eyes His way.  My day may have had a few bumps, but even with the bumps I found myself overflowing with joy with the help of this reminder of the greatness of our God and His love for me (and you):

“There is nothing that can ever separate us from Your love.  No life, no death, of this I am convinced: You, My God, are greater still.”  -The Greatness of our God, Hillsong United

Simple and to the point but so, so good to hear time and time again.

Day 4: Today was not my best.  Nothing ‘bad’ happened, but my mind was not Christ-focused for much of the day.  I let my focus slip, until I got in my car to drive home from work…sitting on the interstate, surrounded by people, with road rage building in my veins, I was gently reminded (shout-out to the K-Love radio station) that more than being loved by God, I am renewed, I am cleansed, I am restored, and I am free to dive into the depths of His love for me.  His love expresses itself in grace the moment my thoughts turn back to Him. The road rage that quickly rang through my mind can be even more quickly replaced with thankfulness at the reminder of God’s grace for sinners like me.  This is the power of the Holy Spirit.  This is the purpose of me working on holy expectancy.  He is working, even when I am slipping.

Day 5: Today I wanted to focus on what “holy expectancy” was all about… Walking by faith and expecting God to show up in all moments, not just in the moments we most clearly see our need for Him.  Believing that promises made thousands of years ago still remain  (Romans 8:28).  Waking up with the knowledge that you will one day literally stand before the King of kings and Lord of lords and hear Him graciously welcome you home (John 10:27-29).  Believing that the Almighty, all-powerful God is exactly who he says he is (Revelation 1:8, Psalm 95:1-7).


With these things in mind, holy expectancy simply put is believing that God will do God things.  He has split the seas, healed the sick, raised the dead, opened the eyes of the blind, freed his people, and the list goes on.  He is God, and He will do great things, but if we are not tuned into Him we will miss His fingerprints and the blessing that comes in recognizing His presence and power over our lives.  This past week has truly been eye-opening, and if you (like me) haven’t really put much thought into this concept of expectancy until now, I encourage you do so.  However that looks for you, please take a step in faith and expect the Most High God to do things that only He can do.

If you listen, He will speak.

“Now then, stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do right before your eyes!” – 1 Samuel 12:16

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Narrow Love

Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” -Matthew 22:37-39

Seems easy enough, right?

If you can answer yes, please teach me because I am struggling.

Many of us have heard these verses along with a multitude of others on ‘how to love’ throughout our lives, but I don’t think we (i.e.-me) truly grasp the weight of this command.  So in the hopes of God using these words to speak to you while breaking down some of my own walls, I want to be real with you.  Loving everyone is not easy.

Loving people you don’t like is hard enough, but I would argue that its often hard to even love the people your supposed to love.  Before my family reads this and I get a phone call asking me why I think they are hard to love, let me be very clear: I love my family and I love my friends, fiercely.  I don’t show it like I should, but the fact of me loving them should never be in question.  The point that I’m trying to make is its not whether or not I love them, but it’s how I love people that needs work.

If you’ve read 1 Corinthians 13, you know where I’m going with this.  If you haven’t read this chapter, here’s a little piece (but please go read the whole chapter because it is so good):

“Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails…” (v 4-8)

How often do you find yourself without patience, ready to snap at the next person who even utters a word in your direction?  How often does pride stand in the way of you seeking/receiving/extending forgiveness?  How often do you hold a grudge?  How often do you find yourself unable to find it in your heart to love someone who has hurt you? Or hurt someone important to you?  How often do you cherish the love you receive?  How often do you take it for granted?  How often do you protect the ones you love? How often do you protect their reputation?…

The questions could keep coming, but it all comes down to this: my love falls very short of the 1 Corinthians 13 love.  I am selfish. I am prideful.  I take the love I’m offered for granted. Sometimes it physically hurts to try to love people who have hurt me or someone close to me.  But as with every post, the story *thankfully* doesn’t end with me.


I read a simple prayer a few weeks ago written by Billy Graham that has stuck with me, and thankfully so because this prayer is quickly becoming one I pray daily:

“Your limitless love causes me to see the narrowness of mine, Lord Jesus.  Fill me with Your loving Spirit.”

Its easy for me to look at my life and tell myself that I’m good. That I’m living good enough, I’m loving good enough, and I’m a good enough person.  Then I think of the lengths Jesus went to to show his love, and I’m reminded of the depth of my sin and my shortcomings.

In being reminded of my sin, I’m also reminded of my need for a Savior and the love He showed so graciously and so humbly.   His love literally came down from heaven to pick me up and wash me clean (and to do the same for you).  If that’s not enough, God himself is love, and His Spirit lives within us.  It’s through these reminders that I appreciate this prayer a little more.

The love of God knows no limits, no end, no conditions.  Meanwhile mine knows all three a little too well… so all I can say is “Fill me with Your loving Spirit,” continue walking through this faith-journey with my eyes locked on Jesus, and pray for the heart-change I so desperately need.

 

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Remember

It seems as if lately God has been calling me to remember Him…and it’s sad how often I really do need the reminder he places on my heart.  I think this forgetfulness is something a lot of us struggle with, and so I share the reminders I have needed over the years with the hope that anyone willing to read finds the reminder they might need tonight:

“Remember my love.” Romans 8: 38-39, 1 John 4:9-10
God’s love exists without condition, without exception, and without end.

“Remember my grace.”  Romans 3:23-24, John 1:16
We make mistakes, but God (thankfully) welcomes us home with open arms time and time again.

“Remember me before you stumble.”  Psalm 37:24
He may catch you, or He may use that to raise you higher than before. Either way, He is good.

“Remember my presence.” Acts 17:27-28, Psalm 23:4
Even when He seems distant, He is closer than you know.  Our King is ever-present.

“Remember my pursuit of your heart.” Psalm 23:5-6
God wants your whole heart, brokenness and all.  He wants you.

“Remember my promises and hold tight to them.”  Hebrews 10:23
In the mountain-top moments and the deepest valleys.

“Remember my wisdom.” James 1:5
Seek Him.  For guidance, for clarity, for all things.

“Remember my plan.” Proverbs 16:9, Jeremiah 29:11
His plan for your life is good and pleasing and perfect, and it has been designed for you and you alone.

“Remember my sovereignty.” Colossians 1:15-17, Psalm 33:6-9
When life gets messy (and it will), God is in control.

“Remember my goodness.” James 1:17, Psalm 119:68
There is no good thing apart from Jesus, and in Him goodness can be found in every situation.

“Remember my sacrifice.” Romans 8:1-4
Jesus left a perfect home to come humbly into a broken and hopeless world to pay the debt of our sin and make us children of God and co-heirs with Christ.

“Remember my strength.” Philippians 4:13, Isaiah 40:29-31
When you are weak, He is strong.  When you are strong, He is stronger still.

“Remember that I am for you.” Psalm 16:8, Psalm 68:19
Every step you take, He takes with you.  Cheering you on, lifting you up, carrying you through every day and watching over you every night.

“Remember my peace.” John 14:27
A peace that is available in all moments and all seasons of life that cannot be taken from you by this world.

“Remember me…”  Isaiah 48:12
He is the Almighty God.  The great I Am.  He is unchanging, never-failing, ever-present, and so much more.

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peace

For the past month, I have been praying for answers.  What will I do after school? Where will I live? What will my life look like 6 months down the road?  These are things I have worried and stressed about for months, but over this past month of prayer I finally realized what my answer is:

“just wait.”

What months ago seemed like the dreaded answer I knew I would get but didn’t want to accept has now become one of the greatest blessings in disguise.

You see, one of the things I’ve learned in my walk with Christ is that God does his own thing, and he does it better than anyone ever could.  His timing, his plan, and his faithfulness all remain in perfect condition.

In finding that I am just going to have to be patient and wait for His plan to unfold, God somehow managed to show a new depth to his faithfulness in giving me the answer to a question I didn’t even realize I was asking.

He gave me peace. And y’all let me just say that I have never in my life been so overwhelmed with pure, hopeful joy as I have these past few weeks.   I have no answers to where my life will be this time next year, but I have been given something so much greater.

I didn’t intend for this post to be all about me, but as much as I read and hear and speak about the peace God offers, I feel as if I am only now experiencing it in truth.  The peace God offers is different.  His peace is capable of melting every worry from your soul, every wound you still hold tight, and every single anxious thought that tries to crowd out what you know to be true in Christ.  His peace replaces any doubt with a trust that burns so deep it seems as if nothing could break it.

And the joy.  Of all things His peace has brought into my heart, the joy is priceless.  Even now, as I sit and wait for one of the most important exam scores of my life (really), I find myself full of joy because I have his peace.

Tonight I pray you find the same peace.  I hope that as you pray for whatever it is your heart desires, you take the time to listen.  He may not give you the answer you want, but He will answer.  He will answer in His way, in His time, and it will be exactly what you need because He is good and He is sovereign.


 Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
-Philippians 4:6-7

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
– Romans 15:13

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
-Isaiah 26:3

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chase grace

We all have people in our lives who inspire us. People who teach us, guide us, encourage us, and love us.  We can all point to a person in our past, and hopefully our present, who showed us by the way they walk through life what it means to chase grace.

The person who showed, not by words, but by actions what it means to pursue the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.

The person who teaches you that there is peace to be found in the midst of war and there is something to love about every heart and every person whose heart is beating.

The person who proves that even on the darkest night there is light and there is hope and there is joy.

The person who showed you how to forgive when anger was the much easier option.

The person who is unrelenting in their drive to show compassion in a world where hate and divisiveness seem to take precedence…

My hope is that as you read this, someone comes into your mind.  Your person.  The one who taught you these things, showed you the love of Christ, and led you into a relationship with the One who intentionally molded every piece of you.

Go be that person.

Think about how different your life would be without that person.  The person who demonstrated what it means to follow Christ.  Whether their guidance was known to them or not, they impacted your life simply by living the life God meant for them to live.

In the same way, you may never know the lives you touch or the impact you make on someone’s walk with Jesus, but I think that’s absolutely beautiful.  We don’t live for God in order to be praised by other people, we live for God because we have been transformed by his presence in our lives and want desperately to share the unchanging love he offers to everyone around us.  The impact we, as followers of Christ, have on someone stems only from our God’s ability to break through into that person’s heart and make himself known.

I say all this to make this one point: You can be the very person you look to as an example of what it looks like to follow Christ because you know the very same joy.

The God that captured their heart and set them on their journey to forever chase His grace is the same God who has in turn captured yours.  Whether the person you are thinking of knows the impact they had on your faith or not, God used them to bring you to Him.  He used their obedience in living for Him to bring another soul back home…And He can use you to do the same.

You can be that person.  Live your faith loud, love unceasingly, be compassionate, and run unashamed toward the One who met you wherever you were when your own journey began.  You never know who might be watching.

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(beautifully) in over my head

Let me preface this by saying that if you have not heard “In Over My Head” by Bethel Music, stop what you’re doing and look it up right now.  I could honestly just stop here and this would be enough because this song is that good.  When I’m searching for answers/guidance/help, music is a big way the Lord reveals these things to me.  It may be a single sentence or the whole song, and often it comes when I least expect it.  This song was no different.  It was a normal day of me getting ready to go sit and study for hours and hours, and then I heard this song and it stopped me in my tracks.  The honesty, the purity, the genuineness of the words just wrapped around my heart and stopped me right where I was.  So here are my thoughts:

How many times have you felt overwhelmed? How many moments have been filled with doubt and insecurity because you find yourself in an unfamiliar place, way outside your comfort zone?  Think of those times, or maybe you’re in one now, and say this:

“I was (am) exactly where God wanted (wants) me to be.”

Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I think we have all (especially me) become too quick to cry out and question why God would put us in a situation/season of life where everything just seems so difficult.  Where we just don’t understand why we’re having to deal with everything happening in our lives.  Why?

Because we don’t have the perspective our God has.  We aren’t all-knowing.  We don’t know what’s going to come out of these hard times, and it’s in these moments that we have to remember that we are exactly where we are supposed to be.

God has planned each moment of your life and purposefully laid it out before you, preparing you for each step before he reveals it.

So while you may not understand the purpose behind you walking through some kind of heartache or sickness or all around stressful time, God knows that in order for you to appreciate what is in your next step you must walk through this first.

God may call you deeper into a place you’re not entirely comfortable with to help you break down the human-sized box you’ve tried to fit him in.

He may have you walk through a little fire today to truly appreciate the joy you’ll find tomorrow.

Or He may even take you to a point where you feel like the waves are crashing over your head and you can’t catch a breath and you would do anything to just make it all stop.  No, this place isn’t pleasant, but it is purposeful. God may allow this season to continue because he realizes the need for you to trust him in every aspect of your life.  He may know that in order for you to accomplish the amazing life he has set before you, you have to come to a place where you finally give up the control you’ve held so tightly to and are willing to follow him wherever he may lead.

Whenever you find yourself in one of these overwhelming phases of life, remember that the Lord is sovereign.  Remember that he is with you through all of it.  He knows how you will come out of this phase and what you will find in the next.  Trust him. Give him control.  Allow him to to take the lead and follow him wholeheartedly down the path he calls you to walk, even if he leads you to a place where the waters are deeper than they’ve ever been before.

Every moment God is preparing you for something.  Whatever that may be, wherever that may lead you, my prayer is that you come to accept these moments not as a punishment, but as a place where God is beautifully, carefully, and lovingly molding you into the person he created you to be.

I pray you see the beauty of these “in over your head” moments as God works in you to become your sole desire, your only source of hope and joy and peace, and where he reveals himself as the only one worthy of such a title.  Don’t feel defeated by these moments, see them for what they are: a beautifully broken place where you find yourself lifting your heart to the One who strives so hard to protect it, saying “I’ve lost control but I am free.”


The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand. -Psalm 37:23-24

“Let the whole world bless our God and loudly sing his praises…We went through the fire and flood, but You brought us to a place of great abundance.” -Psalm 66:8,12

The One who formed you says, “Do not be afraid for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” -Isaiah 43:1-2

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more than gold

When I like something, I don’t just like it, I’m obsessed with it…the Olympic Games happen to be one of those things.  With Team USA bringing home medal after medal (can I get a hallelujah?) and my denial that the games are ending, I’m reminded of something that I want to share with you:

Of all the gold medals won at the Olympics, you are worth more.

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold–though your faith is far more precious than mere gold…” -1 Peter 1:7

“For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors.  And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.” -1 Peter 1:18-19

One thing I catch myself thinking as I sit on the edge of my seat watching every game that involves a medal is that  I wish that could be me.  I think about how I would give almost anything to be talented enough, strong enough, fast enough, or tough enough to win a gold medal for my country. And it’s in those moments I am reminded that God has other plans for me life.  God’s plan for my life does not include an Olympic medal, but the plan he has placed before me is uniquely mine.

The same goes for you.  God has laid a one-of-a-kind plan out for your life. I repeat: God has created a plan specifically for you.  It is a plan laid out step by step by the hands of a loving and all-powerful God with you in mind.  It’s a path that only you are destined to walk.   Your life may not include a medal, but that’s okay beause you have been especially created in the image of the perfect God to follow a path that not even Michael Phelps could walk, because it is only yours.

And while I am relating this specifically to the Olympics because I am 100% obsessed, that moment of looking at someone and wanting what they have because it seems like God gave them a better life relates to almost anything.

The girl you see with the seemingly perfect boyfriend/husband with the cutest kids and the supermodel body.

The guy you see that has your dream job and dream girl.

The neighbor you see with the fancy house and brand-new cars.

The family you pass with 5 kids when you are only praying for one.

The relationship that is perfect by Instagram standards.

The friend who has traveled to more than 25 different countries.

The co-worker who just got the big promotion.

The believer who seems closer to God than you think you could ever be…

There will always be a life you look at and see as better than your own. But here’s what we need to remember: We have been created in the image of the perfect God who makes no mistake.  Our Creator has molded every piece of you to fit the path that only you can live out because he loves and cares for you so deeply.  God’s plan for your life is perfect for you because he made it with you, the one who is more precious to him than all the gold in the world, in mind.


“What is the price of five sparrows–two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them.  And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” -Luke 12:6-7

“Look at the lilies and how they grow.  They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.  And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you.” -Luke 12:27-28

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” -Psalm 32:8

 

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