We expect one thing … and we often get another. What is your expectation of life and how does it measure up to your reality of life? If you’re being honest, are you sometimes disappointed over how things have worked out for you? Have you ever been like me and say “God, really? Really? This is NOT what I expected!”
Hey, we were given fair warning.
Isaiah 55:8 says: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
And then the next verse is a promise to us:
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
No your way and God’s way won’t always line up. Sometimes you’ll be disappointed. But you can fully trust his ways are higher than yours. Always. There’s deeper meaning and purpose you just can’t see right now. God is doing something here. You can trust that it will be good. In the end it will be good.
I met and fell in love with Lonnie when I was 15. Young and oh so naïve. I had a vision of what it would look like to be his wife. We would get married and be together happily ever after. And then the reality. We got married 6 days after I graduated high school, went on a 2 week honey moon, then he went back to his duty station in Germany while I lived at home with my parents … for another year. That was NOT the way I imagined being a newlywed. Not even close.
So what do you do when the reality doesn’t measure up to your expectation? Do you grow disheartened? Do you get bitter? Do you throw around blame like confetti? OR DO YOU TRUST?
Trust there’s more than you can see. More than you can feel. More than you could ever imagine at work here. And while you can’t see it all, you can trust the one who does.
Looking back I see how that first year of marriage spent on separate continents with a weekly 15 minute phone call being our only means of connection served a tremendous purpose … it strengthened us.
Can you look back on a time that strengthened you? It wasn’t easy was it? It wasn’t what you would have wished for. But look what it did for you. God’s ways are not our ways. When will we learn to trust fully?
So after that first year of marriage spent separated by thousands of miles and an ocean, we finally get to live together. I had imagined every detail of what that would look like. In my expectations, the apartment was always clean, we were always happy and every meal I put on the table was perfection. I wasn’t expecting hardship. I wasn’t expecting illness. At 19 I wasn’t expecting a stroke that paralyzed me. Wow – God’s ways are SOOOOO NOT our ways. I mean as newlyweds shouldn’t he be undressing me instead of dressing me? Shouldn’t he be feeding me chocolate covered strawberries instead of feeding me breakfast, lunch and dinner? I never imagined my young, handsome husband having to shave my legs and braid my hair.
That was our reality. And it SUCKED going through it. And I wouldn’t trade it.
You have a story too, and I imagine it goes something like this … “It was harder than I expected. But looking back I see how it was all used for good. I’m who I am today because of what I went through.”
God is interested in building you up so you can build a life. And it can be an ugly, messy, long process. But doesn’t our own story show each of us how God can be trusted? Doesn’t it prove how he is in the details? And doesn’t it prove that whatever your expectations are, the reality will likely look very different AND WE SHOULD BE OKAY WITH THAT.
I would have never ordered up the reality of our first 2 years of marriage. Yeah, can I have a year of separation and lonely desperation … and then why don’t you follow that up with a paralyzing stroke please. NOT WHAT I WOULD HAVE ORDERED – and NOT what I EXPECTED.
But the reality is, it gave us a foundation for a marriage that has weathered the storms. A marriage that as of yesterday is 25 years strong! It gave us a faith in God that has never been shaken since. And it gave us a story. A story of redemption and faithfulness by a God who had a better plan.
Will you carry around anger and disappointment over your reality? Or will you trust that God’s ways are not your ways, and although you would have never ordered some of this reality, you know it will be used for good.
I leave you with this … isn’t it true the vacations we most remember are the ones that went all wrong? Isn’t it true that we remember the camping trip when the tornado came through while you were in a TENT, over all the camping trips of perfect weather. And we laugh.
The sooner we can laugh about a reality that didn’t measure up to expectation, the faster we grow and pass the test.
Hey I don’t know how this is all going to work out, and I’m not supposed to. I’m simply supposed to trust that God has already gone before me and he’s made a way. A way that is best. Perhaps not a way I would have chosen, but a way that is best. Higher.