Ephesians 3:20 says, “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…”
This past weekend I experienced the joy of Ephesians 3:20 as our daughter, Maggie, married a young man who was more than I could ask for or imagine for her.
As a mom, I’ve prayed all her life for the man she might one day marry. And it is a sign of my small faith that Austin surprised even me. He is a godly partner who compliments her beautifully.
Once upon a time, I thought that was how God was – always predictable in the way I thought He should be. “Immeasurably more than we ask or imagine” was in my way (Read: fun, exciting, and comfortable) and in my time (Read: NOW).
Immeasurably more seems…well, fantastic! A delightful combo of Candyland and a beach on Maui.
But what do we do when God doesn’t live up to our expectations? What do we do when we’re disappointed in God?
What do we do about the gap between our expectations and our reality?
There have been times when Ephesians 3:20 has seemed to mock me. God has disappointed. There has been a gap between what I expected and wanted and what I experienced.
Just out of college I was dating a guy who wasn’t a Christian, but was actively “seeking truth” (according to him). In my mind,
A. He was seeking to know God
B. I was giving verbal witness,
C. God desires to be known,
and D. His Word says my prayers make a difference.
So, shouldn’t a + b + c + d = him becoming a Christian and us riding off into the sunset, a happy couple?
Not so much.
And for me, it led to a crisis of faith. I yelled at God, “You’re not who I thought you were! I can’t trust you any more!”
And you know what He whispered to me?
It wasn’t an answer. It was Himself.
He whispered, “I will never leave or forsake you. I am near to the brokenhearted and save those crushed in spirit.”
Your gap may be much harder. More dramatic.
Maybe you expected healing and didn’t get it. Maybe you expected safety but got abuse. You expected til death do us part but got divorce. You expected marriage, but are living with singleness.
When there have been gaps between my expectations and experience (and there have been many), here are a few things I’ve been learning…
- God’s totally ok with my ranting and raging. He’s safe to be honest with. He invites me to come to Him no matter what.
- God is all about redemption. He doesn’t create pain or evil, but He allows it and redeems it for good (not comfort, but good). The times when I’ve experienced gaps have been the times of greatest formation in my life.
- God’s perspective and priorities are different than mine. He sees what I don’t see and knows what I don’t know. As I look back on the gap I described above, I now see God’s great protection, when at the time I could only see loss and confusion.
- Satan wants me to focus on the “woulda, coulda, shoulda’s” of the past that I can’t change, or a vague hope of the future, but God would have me live in the now, wrestling with what He wants to do in me.
What if we allowed God the time to fill the gap between what we expect and what we experience?
So, here’s my prayer: Lord, I don’t know what You know. I don’t see what You see. Help me to trust the gap in my life to what I do know of your character.
What have you been learning from the gap between your expectations and your experience?