So, the other day I was eating grapes and the last one I planned on eating tasted like the child of a sour patch kid and a tomato. Uck! It makes me shiver just replaying it in my mind! Thankfully, I had backup grapes to wash out the horrific taste from my mouth!
You are probably asking yourself, “Where in the world is she going with this?” Well, to be honest I’m not entirely sure, but this grape fiasco really got me thinking about life.
Peanut M&Ms are my favorite candy. Now, I’m sure you are confused about everything, except the fact that I love food! It is dangerous for me to be around Peanut M&Ms, because I can eat them like nobody’s business. But, sometimes a terrifying event occurs that catches me off guard: I get an M&M with a bad peanut inside. Anyone who has experienced this knows the soul-crushing effects. Yet, Peanut M&Ms are still my favorite candy, even with the risk of occasionally discovering a less than ideal tasting peanut. I do not eat Peanut M&Ms or grapes with the expectation that their taste will potentially give me the heebie-jeebies, otherwise I would not willingly eat or enjoy eating them at all.
This is the point God started to reveal something to me. I recently read a book by Grace Thornton titled I Don’t Wait Anymore. For any girl out there who needs a perspective shift and a spiritual challenge to embrace the incredible journey God has planned for each of us, regardless if it matches our expectations, this is a must read. For the girl (like me) who is perpetually single or is seeking to find the purpose for her life, Grace Thornton forces you to question where you place your identity and the expectations you place on God. Whether you are idolizing marriage, the perfect job, or appearance you have longed for, prayed for, and worked for, Thornton suggests that this mindset “would turn things that God designed to point us to Him into things we expect Him to give us in order to fill the holes we hold Him responsible for creating (p. 70).” This perspective encourages the idea that God is good only when life is good and it is hard to find God’s presence in unexpected challenges.
Girls, please don’t feel like I am calling you out! I am preaching to myself right now. We are not the first and will not be the last people to unknowingly place expectations on God and experience doubt and confusion when those expectations are challenged or seemingly unmet. The Israelites expected God to provide them with food in the wilderness. He did. He made manna rain down from the heavens (Exodus 16). Sounds like something you could expect the God of the universe to do, right?! But, after 40 years of manna, the Israelites expected more of God after He had continuously answered their prayers to be nourished and demanded that He give them meat (Numbers 11). They overlooked His provision and goodness for their needs and focused on their desires. This dilemma made Moses question God’s purpose for the journey in the wilderness and led to the rebuttal of all rebuttals from God. Not only did God send the Israelites more meat than they could stand, He asked “Is there a limit to the Lord’s power? Now you will see whether or not my words come true.” (Numbers 11:23)
A similar situation occurred with my main man, Jesus. The Pharisees proclaimed that since “He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon, And his sisters live right here among us (Mark 6:3),” that he could not be the Messiah. The Pharisees were so fixated on the specifics of their idealized version of the Son of God that they missed the power of His messages that were “quite unlike the teachers of the religious law (Mark 1:22),” that set Him apart from any and every one. Because they already had pictured what God’s blessing would look like, they were blind to the most miraculous gift God has ever given, because it was not what they expected.
In both of these instances, God provides for the needs of His people, in the form of food and a Savior (NBD!). But, these massive blessings are overlooked, because people can’t get over themselves and their precise expectations of God’s plan for their lives. Since being slapped with this realization, I have felt like I’m holding a daisy in my hand plucking off petals until I know the answer to my spiritual relationship issue. I’m not debating if “He loves me, He loves me not”. Thankfully, I am confident in that answer. But, I’m questioning “To expect, To not expect”. My heart and mind are in a limbo state. In an attempt to destruct the expectations I have placed on Him, I have found myself expecting less of Him. Talk about Jekyll and Hyde thoughts! For example, rather than expecting God to provide me with a godly husband, at times I have convinced myself that I need to get comfortable with the idea of being lonely forever. Either way, these thoughts encourage me to focus on desires I do not feel like are being met, rather than the blessings God has already provided and continues to provide everyday that may not be exactly what I expected, like my friendship with Maddie. Either of these trains of thought lead me to miss my ultimate destination: God.
“He had pieced our paths together in a way we never could’ve imagined through the seeming wastelands of failed dreams and changed plans. “I doesn’t look anything like I thought it would.”(p. 125) ” That one bad grape or peanut inside an M&M made the next bite so much sweeter and memorable (I take eating seriously!). You don’t want to anticipate the scary, plan-altering events in life, because getting out of bed in the morning would be an absolute chore. That is why we can rest in the fact that although those unexpected events or seasons may arise, God is faithful, His mercies are new everyday (Lamentations 3:22-23) and He plans to share His victory with us forever (John 16:33). Even in the bad grape seasons of life, God promises to be with us.
Ultimately, our confidence in eating good grapes has to increase and the fear of eating gross grapes has to decrease. Or in the words of John 3:30, “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” His desire for my life is greater than the desires I place on my life, because Ephesians 3:20 is no joke! Now I am working to replace my specific expectations of God with an overarching one, that He is AMAZING and is working in me, giving me the desire and the power to do what pleases Him (Philippians 2:13). This process is not cured overnight, but by replacing my expectations with God’s promises, He is transforming my desires. Even though He is the only One who knows the unknown, when I believe He holds my future with plans to prosper me, I can “know the truth, and the truth will set [me] free” (John 8:32).
So, if you have felt discouraged or unfulfilled lately, grab some grapes or Peanut M&Ms and contemplate life when you bite into one that makes your tongue do cartwheels. It might make your heart do one too!