December 8, 2013

Expect God in Faith

This Advent, we are looking at how to learn to Expect God to act in our lives. The season of Advent, the time of preparation for Christmas is filled with all kinds of anticipation. We wonder what we’ll get for Christmas. Will it be what we asked for? We see the glittering Christmas d├ęcor in magazines and expect that we can make our homes look the same. In all of that expectation, we may forget the One who we are really preparing to welcome. We may forget to Expect God to come into our hearts anew each day and esp. on Christmas.

Expecting God requires faith and I recently read a quote from Madeline L’Engle: “Faith is for that which lies on the other side of reason. Faith is what makes life bearable, with all its tragedies and ambiguities and sudden, startling joys.” Perhaps we adults try to be too rational about God. We rationalize even our expectations of God by saying ‘I’m not worthy’ or ‘God is too busy to care about my little problem’. Faith however says the opposite. Faith says God considers each of us worth so much that he ‘sent his only Son…”(John 3:16) Faith says “Ask and you shall receive.” (Matthew 7:7)
Jesus says we must “have faith like a little child”. How can that be? A child can’t understand God. And of course that’s the point. We are not meant to understand or explain the Holy, but to believe and expect that God is present. We become aware that God is good and God is in all things.

A child often finds it much easier to believe than we adults. A child simply believes. A child accepts God and fairies and magic without trying to figure them out. A child finds joy in pretending to be a princess or a soldier. A child waits impatiently, but with expectation, for Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy. A child doesn’t doubt that his wish on a star will happen. A child is quick to share joys and hurts and wants and needs. A child expects a good outcome to each morning.
We adults too often lose that anticipation and expectation. We smile tolerantly when a child wishes urgently on her birthday candle. We helpfully act the part of Santa or the Easter Bunny to ‘keep the magic alive’ for our children, all the while shaking our heads at the innocence that believes these fictions. We hide our own hurts and wants and needs out of fear of seeming weak and not self-sufficient. We crawl out of bed, too often, dreading the day to come instead of expecting to find God in the midst of the joys and challenges.

So what if we tried to recapture the “faith of a child” and to expect to experience God as we go through each day? What if Advent really is the start of something wonderful and God really is coming? I follow a daily meditation ( which recently noted, “When John the Baptist said the Messiah was coming, people had a hard time believing it, especially when it came from a guy who ate bugs and wore strange clothes. And yet they followed him, eager to hear more about the One Who Would Save Us. There's a bumper sticker: “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” This season asks us to wonder what we would do if we believed the impossible could happen. What if the Messiah really is coming again? What if there is a revolution ahead? What if God is bringing heaven to earth?” 
You cannot force an experience of God. You can only be open and wait in expectation for God to brush by like a butterfly or explode in front like a burning bush. It’s not easy to be that unguarded because in order to be available and expecting God, you have to be vulnerable to being hurt by those around you. But faith tells you that “all things work for good” and that “my yoke is easy, my burden is light”. Maybe it is worth the risk to try and be more open.

This week, I plan to try and be more expectant to the wonder of God around me. To be more child-like in my faith and expectation of the Holy exploding into my life. I wonder if there will be any change.
Join me if you dare…

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