I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.
Well, what did you expect would happen?
That’s a comment that I’ve made to my children more times than I can count. Unfortunately, it’s usually in a negative context, where my kids do something less than intellectually sound and then deal with the consequences.
When you stood on that wobbly stool holding your dinner plate, what did you expect would happen???
When you threw the football in the living room right beside the lamp, what did you expect would happen???
Or, for us grown ups:
When you started that heated facebook debate with that person you never talk to in real life, how did you expect it to go?
What exactly did you expect to feel like after binge-watching three shows and drinking a bit too much wine every night for two weeks?
When we ask our kids or our friends or ourselves these questions, we’re not actually asking a question. We’re making a statement:
Maybe you didn’t expect this result, but really, you should have.
So today I’m thinking about about that question: As Christ followers, what should we be expecting right now?
Spending time defining our expectations as disciples of Jesus can bring about both realism and hope in our lives. Realism for the way that the world often works, dominated by greed, power, fear, or self-interest. We shouldn’t be surprised when we see these values elevated.
But our expectations can fill us with hope as well, if we know what it means to be in Christ. Because it means that the very Spirit of Christ is actively at work in us moment by moment, changing who we are and the world around us.
Disciples of Jesus ought to live a life of great expectations. After all, many of us have already seen the amazing things that Jesus has done in our lives, the lives of those around us, and in our faith communities. It should help us expect God to be constantly at work. Can you imagine the disciples waking up the day after Jesus multiplied the loaves of bread to feed thousands? I like to imagine they had expectant eyes, eagerly anticipating how Jesus would meet their needs and send them out in compassion again.
Except, well, that’s not at all what happened. They still hadn't learned what to expect when you’re with Jesus (look up Matthew 16:8-9).
To be a disciple is to expect that God will be shaping and sending us all the time, because that’s what Jesus does. And when we expect something, we look out for it so we don’t miss it (Amazon package analogy, anyone?).
As we follow Jesus, we expect to be changed into something new. As we pray, we expect to hear and sense the presence of God with us. As we look to the living scriptures, we expect to see Jesus come to life in new ways.
I can’t tell you how many people have shared with me that the scriptures have been springing to life in new ways during this season. Why? Because the scriptures were written to a people dealing with complicated, uncomfortable circumstances. There was a need for God. And when there is real need, we look expectantly. And right now people have real needs— emotionally, spiritually, and economically.
It is time to expect God to show up in our lives more these days, not less.
So the question I ask you, my brothers and sisters, is this:
As you lean into prayer, scripture, and compassion each day, what do you expect will happen?
I hope we’re expecting to be changed every single day. Because if we are, I think we will be.
This requires both faith and humility. The humility to suggest that we haven’t arrived, and the humility to admit that we often act out of our own pain, insecurities, and past wounds— but are very short on grace for when other people do the same.
And the faith to believe that Jesus is powerful. The faith to believe that we will be given courage and conviction to make loving decisions. The faith to believe that another world is possible, and that Jesus wants to use us to build it. The faith to believe that pandemics and quarantines and divisive social platforms and technical exhaustion will never be sharp enough to cut apart the Body of Christ.
Most of us are facing hard, complicated choices as we walk forward each day right now. Do we subtly expect that we are alone in this? Or do expect that in our need, Christ illuminates our way and gives us power, love, wisdom, and perseverance? I’m expecting to see that this week. I want to invite you to expect it too- it just might tune your eyes and ears to grasp what’s been available the whole time.
Jesus, I expect you to change me today, and I’m here for it.