Great Expectations

Great Expectations

Jan 29
Great Expectations

I will never forget when my wife and I first started trying to have children.  It was a deliberate choice on our part.  We stopped using birth control.  We charted and planned and took temperatures and counted days and did all the things that normal, rational, responsible people do when trying to have children.

None of it worked.

Then we started seeking professional help.  We looked for experts on reproductive systems and fertility.  We had a few tests run on my wife.

Nothing changed.

The moment I remember the most was sitting in a McDonalds having lunch as we discussed whether or not to go through with the next round of tests.  The next tests would be able to tell us conclusively whether or not there was a problem with my wife’s reproductive system.  By the grace of God, we chose to look for Him in that moment.  We sought His will on the subject.  We reached out to Him as our God and our Savior.  We considered Him a far superior expert on human reproduction — after all, He Created it.

That day we concluded that no matter what the tests results showed, they were not binding on God.  Just because the test showed that there was something wrong, it didn’t mean that God could not overcome it.  Or if the test showed nothing wrong, that didn’t obligate Him to give us children.  On that day we decided we didn’t need any test results.  We knew that God was bigger, wiser, more powerful, and more conclusive than any test.  We decided to put our trust solely in Him and not in our doctor.

That was over 10 years ago.  To this day we have not had children.  At least not if you consider such things through a worldly lens that focuses on what is “mine,” that looks at biology and fertility as experts, that leans on a traditional understanding of what it means to have children.  Instead we look to God and we allow Him to define our situation rather than anyone or anything else.  I have never regretted our decision to put our trust completely in the Lord.

I would encourage you to do the same in whatever struggle or trial you are currently facing.  Here’s why…

God gave Abraham a son even though both Abraham and his wife, Sarah, were far too old to have children.  He kept His promise to them, even though everything they knew about child-bearing said that it was impossible.

Then God asked Abraham to sacrifice his “miracle baby” to Him as a sign of loyalty and obedience.  No normal, rational human being would have jumped to the conclusion “obviously God will raise the child from the dead.”  And yet that’s what Abraham did.  He reasoned that God’s promises involved having a son who would then have children of his own.  Based on that, Abraham concluded that even the death of  Isaac would not prevent God from keeping His promise.  What Abraham knew about God and His promises was more “real” to him than even what he knew about death.

When God rescued His people from slavery in Egypt, He led them out on a peninsula where they were surrounded on three sides by sea.  Then the Egyptian army showed up, seeking to take back their slaves.  Surrounded on three sides by water and with an army blocking the only exit, no rational human being would have concluded “obviously God will part the sea and we will walk across it on dry ground.”  In fact, God’s chosen people reasoned the opposite.  They asked why God brought them out to the desert to die.  What they knew about seas and armies was more “real” to them than the power of their God who had just rescued them from Egypt.  So they reasoned that God had rescued them only to let them die at the hands of the Egyptians.  But God rescued them in a way that was beyond anything they could have imagined.  He rescued them in a way where nobody could question whether it was Him who had done it.

When the Israelites came to the mighty city of Jericho, with its enormous walls and impenetrable defenses, no rational human being would have concluded “obviously we’ll just march around the city for seven days and then God will make the walls just fall down.”  But that is what God instructed them to do and so they did it, regardless of the advice of the war experts or anything else they knew about war and besieging a city.  They trusted in God’s instructions 100%, even though they had never experienced walls falling down or even heard about walls falling down.

Shortly after the victory at Jericho, the Israelites came to the city of Ai.  The experts said that it had a very small fighting force and that it could easily be overtaken with a few thousand men.  So based on their knowledge and experience, they made a rational conclusion and attacked the city — only to be defeated badly.  Only after they remembered to consult with God regarding His plan for taking the city were they finally successful.

When God called Gideon to defeat the Midianite army, no rational human being would have concluded “obviously we’ll take only a handful of men, give them lamps and trumpets, and then soundly defeat this army that numbers more than we can count.”  And yet God’s plan was to take only 300 men and defeat an entire army.  No general who ever lived would have thought this a sound plan.  Nobody who had ever been successful in battle would have deemed it wise.  Everyone would have called it irresponsible, foolish, and suicidal.  Everyone except for those who know God and who live according to His purpose.

When the disciples of Jesus were on a boat with Him and a huge storm threatened to capsize the ship, Jesus was asleep down in the hold of the ship.  These men who knew of all the mighty wonders that God had done for His people, who had been personally called by the Messiah to follow Him, concluded that they were going to die.  Their experience as fishermen told them that storms like this one led to death.  They woke Jesus and asked “Don’t you care if we drown?!”  Their reasoning was that if Jesus cared, He would do something to stop it.  And since He had done nothing to stop it, He must not care.  They were in conflict between two opposing beliefs.  On one hand, they believed Jesus cared about them. On the other was the very real fact of the storm threatening to destroy them.  They could not accept both things as true and so gave more weight to the danger.  When Jesus woke, He calmed the storm by speaking to it.  Then He asked His  disciples, “Why are you so afraid?  Do you still have no faith?”

We are faced with storms and struggles all the time.  In each and every situation we have two pools of knowledge to draw from.  We have the pool of our experiences, of what we have seen and heard and read, of what we have learned from experts, of what we know about history, and any number of other sources.  We also have the pool of what we know about God, of what He has told us about Himself, of what He has told us about how He feels about us, of what He has done for His people in the past.

We have three choices as to how to treat these pools.  We could choose to treat them equally, where what we know about our world and our history is equal to what we know about God.  In this case we look for natural resolutions to the problem, weigh them out, do risk assessments, and try to conclude which solution is the most likely to be used by God or by ourselves or by some other party involved.  The only glory for God is in the outcome, and only if we choose to see Him as the Savior.

We could choose to place what we know about our world and our history as superior to what we know about God.  In this case we leave God out of the picture.  At best, we treat Him as a safety net — we hope He will come through for us, but we aren’t going to “put all our eggs in one basket.”  We look for what we can do and how we can resolve the situation.  The glory for God in this situation becomes something like “God gave me the idea” or “God helped.”  However we give credit, God doesn’t receive all of it — at best, He gets some credit.

The third choice is to place what we know about our world and our history as being inferior to what we know about God.  In this case we choose to look for a non-natural resolution, where God does something beyond our expectations and resolves the situation in a way that is outside what we would have imagined.  All of the great stories of the Bible show us that this is the way God wants us to think.  He wants us to set aside everything we think we know and instead rely solely on Him and His solution to the problem.

To do this violates everything we have ever been taught.  Some will call it “irresponsible.”  Some will promote our ability to think and reason above the One who gave us that gift.  Some will call upon logic, or perhaps science, as to why God cannot be a supreme source of knowledge.  Some will point to their own experiences, some to human history, and some to simply “common sense” or what “everyone knows.”

What I Know, what I choose to believe and where I place my trust, is my God.  I trust in what He has said.  I look to His history and the stories He has shared with us.  I see in them a Personality and a Will.  He shows me how He works, how He resolves situations, and I see that they are rarely ever in the way that I would have thought.

And so I can look forward, with great expectations, to His resolutions.  My God is without equal in imagination and inventiveness in His resolutions.  I would much rather have the answer He has planned than the one I come up with myself or one developed by the experts of this world.

For the record, my life is full of children.  God has given me seven nieces and nephews via my siblings, with more possibly on the way even as I write this.  I have lost count of the children of my friends.  I am surrounded by children who love me, who know me, who spend time with me, who laugh with me (and sometimes at me), whom I pray for (and have at times prayed over), who invite me to birthdays and plays and recitals, who call me on the phone on text me, who give me artwork to place on my fridge or at my desk at work.  I have even been given at least one “son in the faith.”  He now has a daughter and I know she will hear the name of Jesus every day of her life.

My joy in my God knows no end.  He has blessed me in ways I never would have imagined and resolved situations in ways that were beyond my comprehension at the time.

Because I know Him, I can praise Him for the things He has yet to do.  I love my life in Him — always full, always surprising, and always contrary to the expertise and experiences of this world.

4 comments

  1. Latayne Scott

    Brilliant, articulate, and inspiring, Chris. I am so proud of you both.

    • Thank you so much, Latayne. Your words mean more than you can know. You have been a tremendous teacher for me — truly a gift from God!

  2. Diane Carter

    Thank you for sharing this. It is inspiring as He is inspiring. May I print it out and perhaps share it with others?

    • Thank you for the kind words, Diane. You are more than welcome to share anything you find on this site. May God bless you and others through it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *