For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
My friend loves doing things for people, as long as they don’t expect it. Usually when people expect something from you, suddenly all they see is what you can do for them. They don’t see you at all anymore.
Some expectations are stifling and oppressive. Others are scary, but full of hope. They say, “I know you’re afraid to take the first step, but take it anyway. The next step will follow.” Expectations can make us afraid to try anything new because it might not turn out – and it has to turn out.
Expectation can short-circuit life into depression, or it can send you flying off the edge of your world when you were sure you didn’t have the courage to jump. The good type of expectation is a call to come because you need to grow, to create, because this is the place you were meant to be. It’s an invitation: “Welcome, come in you. You were expected.” The bad type of expectation doesn’t want you at all. It only wants what you produce, which is never good enough, and you must always do it all on your own.
That’s how it works when evil speaks to us. It says that showing up is worth nothing; you’re a failure from before the start. All your fears speak at once, as though they’ve already come true. The voice of evil is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Responsibility gets turned all on its head: The things we are really responsible for – showing up, being honest – are never even mentioned. Instead, evil leads us down with impossible demands: “Make miracles happen. You call this creativity? You call this faith? Good grief. Maybe you really should give up. Spare the world more pointless junk. Whoever gave you the impression you could do this, anyway?”
But there, if we listen, is the weak spot in evil’s argument. Art, great lives and achievements are never about small people who didn’t have help. One-man success stories are slanted lies, and the truly successful are the first to point out: “Well, yes, I may have done the right thing; but you see none of it would’ve ever happened if it hadn’t been for her. And him. And them.”
Even the lonely things in life are never as lonely looking back as they seemed at the outset. God’s good expectations call you in poetry, saying, “Follow; it’s okay sometimes not to know where you’re going. We’ll go together.”
God, I don’t want to act out of fear or the desire to please other people. I want to act out of obedience and boldness. Thank You for calling me to step out, expecting that you will work through me and guide me.