Advent: Embracing the Unexpected

At the end of every year, reflection comes into play. For many of us, the holiday season brings up memories. Family can surround and support or equally make us question. Singleness or married, there’s expectations with every relationship. Traveling at the holiday or simply finding ourselves with one day off and staying behind for work (I definitely remember this in my college days.) With every holiday season, there are expectations. Moments where we believe things will work out a particular way and yet they do not. Promises pan out differently. Life takes unexpected pivots.

As we look at expectations, I can’t help but look at the life of Mary. The stamina and obedience within her spirit is unfathomable. It’s a faith that inspires, the pushes me forward, and simply reminds me of the beauty of walking with God through the wildness of life.

Here we have a teenage bride, excited to be married to her soon-to-be husband. She is busy prepping for the wedding as most brides do, and we find Joseph preparing for their life together, building their home. I wonder what Mary expected of God. Did she look at the story of her ancestors and think that God only moved in extraordinary ways in the past? Was she expecting years of silence as her parents and grandparents encountered? What was her response to Zechariah’s encounter with the angel and Elizabeth’s pregnancy? I also wonder how the Shepherds’ expectations were shifted on a starry night? They were looking forward to a peaceful night of watching sheep, yet found themselves in the company of a host of angels. And what about the wise men? They were expecting a king, royalty, someone they should know and revere in their spheres of knowledge and political influence. Instead, three men found themselves in a humble home worshipping at the feet of a small child. There are countless times in my life where I hold fast to my expectations. I love order and hold a high standard to both myself and EXPECTATIONS VS. EXPECTANCY others. There are many times when my expectations aren’t met, and my world comes crashing down around me. Yet, when do our expectations cripple our lives, our community, and, most importantly, our walks with God? There have been many moments when I would see the way that God would move in the lives of others, and my heart would be encouraged and inspired. However, I found myself grappling with this question, “Why didn’t God move in my life in the same way? What is it they had that I didn’t?” After pondering for a while, I would come to a rather unsettling conclusion: I wouldn’t let God move in that way in my life, because it didn’t fit in line with my set of expectations. Because God is merciful and gracious, sometimes he lets us stay there. With my long list of expectations comes a big box. It’s a box I try to put God in. However, God doesn’t live in a box, and you just end up with a lot of cardboard! What if, instead, God is a God of Expectancy? Expectancy leads us to hope. It reminds us that in the line of eternity God is good, his promises are true, and that lends my heart to a place of praise and thankfulness. I think Mary understood that God is indeed a God of Expectancy. She knew that her list of expectations of God were far from that of the plan he had for all of eternity. She could look at him and respond with the willingness to bear the seed of Jesus, the Christ.

Read LUKE 1:46-49 (ESV).

For more, download Advent: A New Liturgy, a free e-book to guide your spiritual practice and grow your faith this Christmas season.

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