There are times when I am perfectly content to do nothing more than to physically blend into the fabric of my chair and let the world pass without me.
Then there are times when I am passionately consumed with possibility.
Most of the time, though, I am innocuously somewhere in between the two. I’m sure I’m not the only person who grew up learning to keep their standards low. If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed, right? What made that easier for me was that I didn’t think I deserved much. Furthermore, I was always prepared to have whatever I was given, taken back. It seemed everything I was given when I was growing up came with strings and conditions. It only follows that I quit hoping for or asking for anything. I’m confident that I am not alone in this.
That’s really something to reconcile with a God who has good plans for you and wants to give freely and abundantly as a measure of His grace, isn’t it?
I remember one Christmas, my husband had no idea what I wanted as a present. I wasn’t helping much because I couldn’t think of anything I thought I really “needed” (or “deserved”). I was – quite appropriately – at the Dollar Store when John called me. He told me he knew what he wanted to get me. A Kitchen Aid mixer. Did he have any idea what those things cost?! No way was I going to “let” him spend that kind of money on me. Then I realized that this wasn’t just about me. I couldn’t reject his thoughtfulness. This was important to him, so I accepted. And I cried – right there in the Dollar Store.
Which brings me to what I’ve been pondering lately. God has promised His children good things. I’m one of His children, but I don’t expect good things. Which must be as much of an insult to Him as it would have been to my husband if I had refused to accept the oh-so-expensive Kitchen Aid mixer for Christmas. Even worse, I know that God sacrificed a lot for His children to have good things. Not that we won’t have what we think of as “bad stuff” along the way as well, but He obviously intends for us to have a joyful, abundant life. After all, we’re His children. What sort of reflection of His glory are we if we live a dreadful, miserable, small life?
So I’ve been thinking…. What might happen if I dared to open myself to the possibilities of what God wants for me? What if I began to pray for a heart and mind that would be receptive to whatever He has planned for me? What if I were to get out of His way and allow Him to remove the things that keep me from what He wants for me? What if I asked Him to open my eyes to the absolute wonder of what He’s already given me?
Does that mean I expect a life of wine and roses? Absolutely not. That would be incredibly naive. But when I consider all that I may be missing…. I really have no idea what to expect. I know, though, that it will be important to trust that His plan is good – for me and for His kingdom. It will be important to not label anything as “good” or “bad” if I’m going to be confident that it’s all in His hands and that He’s working all things for good: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV)
The thing is, as a human with the limitations of a human mind and imagination compared to God’s, my focus is on what I can experience – wealth, happiness, contentment. Those are the things I can list and measure. But I believe God has bigger and better things to give me, things that delight Him, that reflect His glory and further His Kingdom. But it’s difficult to hand God a blank sheet of paper without offering a helpful list of the things I think I need when I believe He has things to give that I wouldn’t even know to list myself.
As we see when Satan tempted Jesus during his 40 days in the wilderness, wealth, flesh and power are the least of our Lord’s concerns. Realizing that Jesus didn’t come as Messiah to wear a physical crown and lead an army of armed soldiers was challenging for both His followers and His opponents. Instead, He came for our deliverance from a very different oppressor, to offer us an eternal deliverance. He offered something permanent and steadfast.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV
So here’s what I want to do. I want to pray for and anticipate those things that I lack the imagination to anticipate. I want God to remove from me all the things in my mind and heart and spirit that block the way for His will in my life. I want to be open to His unique will for me. I want to be prepared soil for new fruit. I want to avoid the temptation to tell God what I think I need and open the door wide as I say, “Show me what you’ve got!”
I’ve lived my life expecting very little, often being prepared to have it taken from me. I have no idea what to expect, but His word says it’s good, so I want it – without limitations, conditions or pre-conceived ideas. I pray for my heart and my mind to be properly prepared to receive it. I pray that I will recognize it and be willing to receive it when it comes. And I pray that it makes me a more valuable part of His kingdom.
This should be exciting!