Thursday, December 3, 2009

"Expect God"

In a Sunday school class of middle school boys I taught many years ago, I placed a poster on the wall on which the words were printed, "Expect God." "What do you think I mean by this?," I asked the boys.

Immediately, one of them responded, "You mean Jesus is coming again!" "That's a great answer," I said, "and you're right. But I'm actually thinking about a different expectation than that." No other answers were forthcoming, so I shared with them the affirmation of the Psalmist, "My soul, wait thou only upon God. For my expectation is from Him" (Psalm 62:5).

I shared with the boys that if they believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, their lives would be saturated with His presence and working in all things. "You will never live a moment in this life or the next in which your Lord is not the great fact and reality of your heart and experience. You may not always see or understand what He is doing, and you may not always be immediately comfortable with what He is doing. But His glory, your good, and the good of those with whom you live will be the truth of your existence. So, gentlemen, expect God."

Three decades have not changed my confidence in what I shared with those young men. Time has rather exponentially enhanced my confidence that God "worketh all things after the counsel of His own will" (Ephesians 1:11). It has also confirmed that seeing and understanding the ways of His working are often greatly challenging. It can also be decidedly uncomfortable as we are "always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal body" (II Corinthians 4:11). As we determine to expect God, however, that is, as we plant deeply within our hearts that all things in our lives truly are working together for good, we shall not be disappointed. Indeed, our hearts will be full regardless of circumstance, situation, or condition because we are anticipating that the living God will be awaiting us in every venue, and He will be who He is in the blessed, the difficult, and the mundane.

The world, the devil, and the flesh will constantly tempt us to expect everything but God. If we respond in such unbelief, our Heavenly Father may allow us to reap the consequences of our carnal anticipation. If, however, we put to death fleshly and devilish expectations, we will harvest the fruit of the Spirit we have planted. We will find our Lord and know Him because we are believing the Bible that directly or implicitly declares on every page that "to live is Christ" (Philippians 1:21). Expect God... "my expectation is from Him." I hope that some or all of those young men from so long ago remember the exhortation. Even more, I hope they have experienced the truth that their lives are completely saturated with the Lord in whom they "live and move and have their being" (Acts 17:28). Expect God.

"For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ."
(Philippians 1:21)

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