What To Expect When You’re Expecting… God
What To Expect When You’re Expecting… a baby.
The idea is this: Help parents-to-be feel more prepared for something they will never be prepared to be.
(And I’m not knocking the book. I haven’t read it. But I’m pretty sure it’s in the house somewhere!)
But let’s face it:
You can prepare all you want but nothing totally prepares you for kids. Ask any parent.
It’s the late-night, trip-to-the-emergency-room, troubles-you-never-thought-existed, glorious-giggles, gaffs and graduations of a totally surprising mountain-ascending experience.
With that in mind: What should you expect when you’re expecting… God?
What should you plan and prepare for when you’re yearning for the Almighty in your life? Can you know?
Recently I blogged about 5 High-Value Parenting Habits from My Parents’ Generation (That We Can Bring Back). (You can read it by clicking here.) In it I quoted social scientist William Doherty who said that parenting is “a high-cost/high-reward activity.”
The same can be said of more deliberately opening up to God’s power and presence in your life: It’s a high-cost/high-reward activity.
I want to highlight one verse. At first glance it looks great! Uplifting! Liberating! (And it is.) But probably in a more life-changing way than you think.
Here’s what the apostle Paul wrote to people in the city of Corinth: “anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (NLT)
Sounds like you’ve just given birth. To yourself.
But a new self.
That’s the thing. When we’re expecting God, we’re expecting… God. One who is ready, willing and able to transform us.
In that process, here are a few things to expect:
1. Expect to evolve upwards
If nothing really changes about your life you haven’t met God. You’ve probably met a more eager version of yourself. Author and pastor Tim Keller says it well: “God invites us to come as we are, not to stay as we are.”
Your evolution will most likely be the combination of two things: a prompting by God, and a deliberate response by you.
The key initial efforts you can make are praying, reading the Bible, worshiping with a flesh-and-blood congregation, and looking for opportunities to serve. (By the way, here’s a 1-page ‘how to start’ guide for those who want to read the Bible.)
Those are the basics. A big temptation is to make spirituality strictly a private thing. And it needs to be. That’s an awesome start. But it can’t stop there. We don’t come to the end of grade 2 and mistake it for our grade-8 graduation.
2. Expect the unexpected
At the same time, know that your journey ahead will be like walking into a mist. You need to follow the road while not being able to see around the corner.
This is hard. We want to plan for every eventuality, put money away and secure our future. But with God, he’s your security. He’s your future. His presence is really the only thing you can depend on anyway.
And trust this: God’s plan for you is bigger than your view.
You have plans. I know. They’re not as good as his.
In your new reality. Unexpected things will happen. (Remember, ask any parent.) You may need to change directions or jobs. You will start to think differently about some people or problems. And you will certainly not be like you are now.
Expect the unexpected. And trust that the outcome will be… better.
3. Expect a priority shuffle
Although you should expect the unexpected (see point #2), there are also things you should expect.
Recently I’ve become obsessed with the movie The Sound of Music. There’s this scene where the Maria (played by Julie Andrews) is asked about the most important lesson she’s learned as she tries to be a nun. She replies: “To find out what is the will of God and do it wholeheartedly.”
If you expect God in your life, you need to expect a priority shuffle. The point is not “to find out what is MY will and to do it in moderation.” It’s “to find out what is the will of God and do it wholeheartedly.”
When that happens…
- Choices that result in temporary happiness start giving way to choices that result in a more lasting joy
- Opinions about a thousand things start being defined not by what culture preaches but by what Jesus teaches
- Our pursuit of achievements, money, looks and “success” start to get trumped by things like humility, charity, service and faithfulness
One of the biggest revolutions in my own life happened when I realized this: What God wants is more important than what I feel.
It may be true that the enemy of faith is comfort. And a lot of us are pretty comfortable. Things are “fine.” But in reality, we’re staring at glowing stickers on the ceiling when just through the door and up there’s a shimmering night sky.
- Expect to evolve upwards
- Expect the unexpected
- Expect a priority shuffle
A teacher named Augustine said that God is ruling now. But just how some people can keep their eyes closed and not see the light that is flooding the room all around them, it’s also possible to live in the midst of God’s life-lifting rule and not be in step.
I love poet George Herbert. He wrote: “But can he want the grape, who hath the wine?”
I love that you’re reading this. Take your next best step towards the wine. I think I will too.