Being & Building Followers & Friends of Jesus
Rather than attacking today’s idea from the front—and our previous rumination on goals and plans hit on many of the ideas inherent in this next idea already—I’d like to approach today’s meditation from a different angle.
Over the last several years, and from multiple sources, God has reinforced the importance of expectancy in my life. Meaning: When we lay down our time, our possessions, our attitudes, whatever, to actually give God something to work with in our lives, do we truly expect that God will show up?
At the same time, I’ve realized how little expectancy bears resemblance to expectation. If I bring my own agenda to the table, even with the best of intentions, about the only thing I can expect is disappointment—and I’m likely to do more damage than good, not least of all to myself. That’s not only true about my relationship with God, but about every part of the life he’s given me.
Conversely, when I turn to God and say, “This is your gig; do what you will” (or the old-fashioned but still effective “not my will, but thine”), things tend to fall into line much more easily—because they’ve been left in the hands of Someone who can draw a line correctly.
Hopefully, it’s obvious that being expectant doesn’t translate to “do nothing.” It means: Go about the business God’s called you to, and let the results take care of themselves. The parable of the talents nicely illustrates this:
“A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away” (Luke 19:12b–26).
In re-reading this recently, something hit me that I hadn’t previously noticed. There’s a bit of conjecture to it, but it makes sense: The king comes back after receiving his kingdom, and upon seeing the faithfulness of the first two stewards gives each of them authority over several cities. Where do you think those cities came from? My bet’s on the kingdom that the nobleman just received. Someone’s got to watch over those cities, after all.
Likewise, God wants to create new things through us, not just give us control over things (and kingdoms) we already know. We can only prepare to receive those things by remaining obedient to the King, and by remaining faithful to his kingdom and the things he’s already entrusted to us. Expecting God’s goodness (or in the third steward’s case, his “badness”) to look a certain way is usually a futile exercise. God will show us what we need when we need it. Sometimes we get a glimpse into what God’s fulfilled vision in our lives will look like, but more often he’ll let us know when it’s time to move forward, and into what new kingdom.
So stop expecting too much from yourself spiritually, or otherwise. Stop expecting instant regeneration, or instant success. Trust God as you once did. Don’t try to anticipate his moves before he’s made them. Allow him to grow you at his pace, instead of thinking you can run out ahead.
At the same time, don’t underestimate what God can do. Be faithful with what God has already entrusted to you, and live in the expectancy that the good things he’s already entrusted to you will produce even better things beyond your expectations.
Lay It Down Today
We’re going to try a little parallel Bible study today, reading both versions of the parable of the talents—Matthew 25:14–30 and Luke 19:11–27. Note the similarities and the differences between each account. More importantly, note what God’s saying to you through each version.
Then, reflect on this: What can you identify as things God has already entrusted to you—things you know God wants you to do? It could be a specific calling or impression of the Spirit, or something as profoundly “mundane” as being a better parent or spouse. Whatever those things are, list them out now. Then, pray over your list. Ask God to help you “[be] faithful in [the] very little” he’s already given you, so that you may be ready to receive the authority you need for the new works he has in store for you—both here and beyond.