And it will be said in that day, “Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.” Isaiah 25:9
It is weird when you are in the midst of grief after a special person dies and you keep expecting them to show up in their usual places, only to remind yourself that they will not be there. We wait with expectation for those we love, wanting to enjoy their presence and fellowship. There were many times after Mike Wells’ died that I would catch myself wondering when he got home from his next trip or why I hadn’t gotten an email from him in a while. It’s hard to make your mind and heart quit waiting with expectation for news of someone. I also laugh about my dog, who knows the mornings that my husband is coming home from his shift as a firefighter. She waits in a different place on the mornings he is returning from the fire station than on mornings she knows he is at work for the day or safely in bed at home. My kids also ask the whole 48 hours that he is gone—when does he come home again, Momma? We wait with expectation for this loved one to arrive and love on us as he only does.
As Christmas approaches again, I think of the expectation that the Jews were supposed to have for the Messiah. They were waiting for someone who was going to rescue them and (so they thought) get rid of the crazy government, which lorded over them currently. Except, when Jesus finally showed up, a lot of them missed Him. The religious ones were really oblivious—they were too concerned about what other rules they could come up with to judge people and how incredibly pious they could be as they walked through the streets. The Jews had been taught their entire lives to expect this Messiah, but He didn’t show up in the way that they thought He would, so a lot of them missed it. They denied it was really Him. This wasn’t the way He was supposed to come, so it couldn’t really be Him. They expected Him to be a powerful leader who destroyed the governments and ruled in their stead, not a carpenter’s son who went from a tiny baby to a humble servant—healing and teaching, but never demanding power or position. I can become quite condemning of the Jews who missed Jesus in my mind, wondering how they could miss this huge gift of God. But really, I miss Jesus showing up in my daily life quite often. I don’t always walk through my day with real expectation for His Life. I get distracted or stressed, and I forget to look with expectation at what He is going to do in the midst of the life He has brought for me today. Or I want Him to show up in a different way and do the things that I think would be best.
There are two things that I believe we can hold on to in this journey—He will always be there, and He may do things in a way that’s different than what we want or expect. We get to live in expectation of His love in our daily lives and He knows the thing we really need in that daily life. Sometimes it’s a measure of hard things, and the hard seems to go on and on. Sometimes it seems like He has abandoned us, but we know that isn’t true according to Scripture as He says He never leaves us and is our helper in our life today (Hebrews 13:5-6) and nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39). There are other times when we wait with expectation for His work and love and then it doesn’t come as we wanted it. It’s like getting the gift you didn’t want for Christmas and then trying to pretend to be grateful. The problem is that I really don’t know what I need! I don’t know the end of the story—I don’t know what situations I need to know Jesus through to prepare me for the beautiful next thing. I have to trust my Father to know what is best for me, but also not just to abandon me in the hard things—He stays and holds me in the midst of those!
I remember Mike talking about how he would arrive in some new place he had never been, and he wouldn’t have a plan for how he was going to do a meeting there. He would just take a walk, and meet people along the way who would know someone he needed to talk to, and that someone would want to organize a meeting for others to come, etc, etc. It was a simple expectation that God had called him to that particular town, so He was going to work. Mike didn’t know how exactly, and he definitely didn’t always have the most pleasant accommodations or experience surrounding the reason he was there—but Jesus would always meet him and have at least one person with whom Mike was to speak. I want to live with that expectation every day, to wake up and look for Jesus to bring situations and people in which He is going to show His power and love. There is no pressure associated with this, as He is going to have a word for these people as well, so it isn’t up to me! What a deal! This Christmas, as you celebrate the coming of Jesus as a baby to earth to radically shift our relationship with God, I hope you also celebrate the expectation of Jesus’ showing up throughout your daily life in whatever ways He has called you, knowing that He walks through the hard with you and will always, always, always be there.