‘Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”’ – Matthew 14:25-30
In the fall of 2019 Jesus gave me three words that have been a mighty rescue over the last two years and have taken root in my heart as an intricate part of the Life he is building in me.
“Eyes on me.”
These three simple words have fundamentally changed my perspective and posture as I have navigated the trauma, loss and pain of COVID life and all of the fallout associated with it - relational, social, and spiritual. These three words, while a rescue in and of themselves, have also been the foundation of the migration of my posture from expectation to expectancy.
We have a lot of them and, based upon our circumstances, our expectations may be good … job advancement, solid relationships, a nice little life; or, not so good … crappy job, no friends, stuck where I am. However, there is one thing all expectations have in common whether “good” or “bad”, they are all about us. Even the expectations we hold for others; our children’s success or failure, our best friend’s wedded bliss or acrimony, our church’s growth, stagnation, or collapse are all about what we expect. Our expectations are all about what we hope for or what we fear based upon what, in our hearts, we believe we or others are capable of.
For the majority of my life I have lived with expectations. And, most of those have been good. My circumstances have been such that I have experienced career growth, generally good relationships, health and, for the most part, a happy little life; grounded, primarily, in what I could see as possible based upon my hard work and the skills God gave me.
Now I am not saying that my life has been all roses and lollipops. I have had my share of failures, disappointments, and pain. No father (parents divorced when I was three), two years of unemployment, and failed relationships testify that. But, for the most part, things have gone ok. But is “ok” what Jesus promised? Not even close … “I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.” – John 10:10
If we are honest with ourselves, the abundant life Jesus promises is mightily opposed by, among other things, our expectations. If we take a close look at our expectations, they are all “down to earth.” Our expectations for ourselves and others are founded in what we see as possible, or not, within the confines of either our own circumstances, abilities, history, and opportunities, or how we the view the circumstances, abilities, history, and opportunities of others.
However, Paul, in Ephesians 3, tries to move us beyond expectation into a way of living that makes abundant life possible. From expectation to expectancy.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
I find it interesting that when Paul arrives here in prayer, he has just finished surfing the immense sea of language in an attempt to describe the vastness of the Love of God and, in the shadow of the Love of God, he then leads us into the realm of expectancy.
While expectation and expectancy share the same root, expectancy is rooted in faith, present in the unknown, and grounded in the assurance of what we do not currently see or experience. For as the writer of Hebrews said, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
As we move from expectation to expectancy our perspective shifts. Our days start not with “How can I make this or that happen (Or prevent it from happening)?” but with Jesus, where are we going today and what are you going to do?” In moving from expectation to expectancy we move from the perspective of looking at the world in terms of what we and others are or are not capable of to expecting God to show up in beautiful, powerful, unexpected ways. When we move from expectation to expectancy we begin to look forward to what God, in his infinite Love and with his unlimited resources, is going do in and through us and others each day.
“Eyes on me.” Three little words of rescue. Three little words of guidance. Three little words that have shifted how I see myself and the way I perceive others. It may seem like a subtle shift but, at the core of my being, the shift has been life changing. A shift that leads to freedom and restores life. A shift that strengthens relationships. A shift toward faith and hope grounded in love. A shift that stirs within me the promise of outcomes far above and beyond the limits of my expectations.
Expectations are rooted to the earth. Expectancy makes its home in Heaven.
Expectations are tethered. Expectancy is alive, full and free.
Awakened through God’s Love as he works in and through us and others to make these words from the Lord’s Prayer come alive as we keep our eyes firmly fixed on Jesus … “Your Kingdom come and your will be done, here on earth as it is in heaven.”
Merry Christmas and Godspeed!