Updated: Sep 16, 2020
December 11, 2006
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28.20b
Have you ever lost God? I mean, have you ever been living your life, going about your business, and no matter how hard you pray or how desperate times seem, you can’t find God? I’ve had that happen to me, more times than I can count. There have been times when I felt like I couldn’t find the Lord if I’d been locked in a closet with Him. It’s an experience every Christian has from time to time. Why is that?
A pastor friend of mine – Tony Vinson – preached a really good sermon on broken expectations recently, and that got me to thinking. Few things are harder to overcome in our Christian life than broken expectations of God. We think God ought to be doing one thing or should be found in one place, but God does not live up to our expectations. So often, we cannot find God because we are looking for Him to be as we are and to do what we do. In reality, God chooses times and places and ways, not us.
We are in the season of Advent, the season of waiting and expectation. Many of us have a long “honey-do” list for God that we want to present as soon as we get His attention. We wait for God to come in hopes that He will make things right or fix things the way we want, and therein lies our problem. God does not fail to meet expectations; too often we have wrong expectations of God. Think of it like this: if you or I were going to save the world, we would start with food, education, health, and then decide what to do next. We would arrive with all our supplies in hand, ready to fix everything. But that is not what God did; He arrived in a manger as a tiny Baby.
When we expect God to act like us, we cannot find Him. The goal of Christian life is to become like Christ, not to have Christ become like us. We forget that. And so we search and get frustrated because we cannot see God and do not know what He is doing. Our expectations are not met, and we become disappointed with God and feel abandoned or distrustful, until finally, we cannot find Him no matter how much we look.
We need to let God be God. That means we need to let God do things on His own terms and in His own ways. The prophet Isaiah reminds us that God’s ways are higher than our ways, just as His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. (Is. 55.9) When we expect God to conform to human standards and behaviors, which we certainly would recognize, we are expecting God to conform to sin – to brokenness, failure, intellectual and emotional blindness, and ultimately, to death. The whole point of entering the world was to break the power of those over us; why would He ever conform to such things?
If we would meet God, we need to be still and wait. Wait… wait… He has proven that He is not afraid to come among us; He chose to be born to us. If we cannot find Him, we are probably looking for Him in the wrong place or we expect Him in the wrong manner. Whatever He does, it will not look like any human effort.
If we pray to open our hearts and minds to the movement of the Spirit, to the new thing God would like to do in our lives, suddenly, we will discover that He is there, He is with us, and has never abandoned us at all. Wait. That is the purpose of Advent, to teach us to wait for the Lord and in waiting, to prepare us to meet Him again, this time more deeply and more fully. Be open to new things and to a fresh movement of the Spirit. There are two things of which we can be absolutely certain: first, Christ will come to us. That is the precedent set by the Incarnation and that is His promise – which He will not break. And second, we can be certain that He will come to us in His own way and on His own terms, as Who He is, not who we expect Him to be.
In Christ –
© Servants’ Feast Ministry, 2006