Monday, November 15, 2010

The Unexpected Life

Some days we get out of bed, go through the motions, and don't feel like we sowed or reaped much of anything by the time we're crawling into bed that night. Some days we get out of bed and have great expectations for the day. We wait for God to move and work through a church service or retreat or small group, and He does, and when we crawl into bed we feel refreshed and excited. But then there are other days, when we think we're just going through the motions, but God does something amazing. He teaches us a great divine lesson in the midst of our daily activities. And when we crawl into bed we have nothing else to feel except complete awe. Today has been one of those days.

I was reading a book to my son before nap time, as is our usual routine. Today's book was The Tale of Three Trees, by Angela Elwell Hunt. The story is about three young trees who have big dreams for themselves. The first wants to be made into a treasure chest and hold the finest treasure in the world. The second wants to be made into a great ship and carry Kings across the sea. The third wants to stay on the mountaintop and become the tallest tree in the world, pointing all eyes up toward God in heaven. As the story progresses, we see the aging of the trees and what becomes of their lives. The first is made into a simple feed box for animals, the second is made into a rugged fishing boat, and the third is chopped down, cut into beams and stored away. Not exactly what they were expecting.

And then the Holy Spirit began his work in my heart, as I read to my son, "Many, many days and nights passed. The three trees nearly forgot their dreams." I broke down. Right there in the rocking chair, toddler by my side looking up at me rather confused, I started crying. How many times do we forget, or more likely feel like God has forgotten, about our dreams? As mothers, is it not so easy to feel like as soon as that first child walked in the door, our dreams walked out? After Maddox was born there was a small part of me (a big part at times) that thought my Creator had forgotten me. He had forgotten about my destiny. We spend our childhoods dreaming about the great things we'll become, and as our stories play out, and those initial dreams don't seem to take shape, we often find ourselves feeling alone... left alone by the One who made the promises in the first place.

As I was browsing through some friends' Facebook pages this morning, I came across this quote:
"We all think we’re going to be great and we feel a little bit robbed when our expectations aren’t met. But sometimes expectations sell us short. Sometimes the expected simply pales in comparison to the unexpected. You got to wonder why we cling to our expectations, because the expected is just what keeps us steady. Standing. Still, the expected’s just the beginning, the unexpected is what changes our lives.”

Many of you may know the end of the three tree tale. The first tree, the one that was made into a feed box, ends up in a stable, used as a humble manger for the Lord Jesus. He realizes his dreams are fulfilled because he is holding the greatest treasure in all the world. The second tree, the one that was made into a fishing boat, carries Jesus across the sea when He calms the storm. He realizes his dreams are fulfilled because he is carrying the King of kings. The third tree, the one that was cut down and stored away as a pile of beams, seemingly left to become nothing at all, is pulled out and formed into a cross. He is returned to the mountaintop on which he wanted to stay, this time with the Christ laid across his chest. He realizes that he is pointing the whole world to the God of Heaven, and not only has his greatest dream been fulfilled, but it has happened in a way that is endlessly better than what he initially expected.

Sister, your Creator has not forgotten you. What we expect is not always what He plans to give, but the unexpected gift He so generously gives will far exceed anything we could have planned for ourselves. Let's live this unexpected life with a heart that swells up in thankfulness. That can be our best and only response during this season in life; a season when we could otherwise feel forgotten. We can trust that the One who had a reason for putting us here, also has a purpose for us to fulfill. He will bring it to completion in His perfect timing and we will see the greatness He had destined us to all along.

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


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