I watched the sunrise, yesterday, but you could be forgiven for thinking that I didn’t. It’s become an August bank holiday tradition to sleep under the stars. We’ve been in a cave, on a hillside, and yesterday found us on a beach. As tends to be the way with sleeping in the open, I was awake at dawn with my eyes scanning the eastern horizon.
A low line of clouds hung in the sky and the time for sunrise came and left without that beautiful slither of gold making it’s appearance. I didn’t see the sunrise, but I knew that it had. I knew that it had risen because dawn had turned to day, because everything was illuminated, and eventually because I saw the sun poke out from the clouds.
It made me wonder about our expectations of God. Are we sometimes so focussed on what we think something should look like that we can miss the reality when it happens? We can pray and pray for breakthrough then when it doesn’t present itself in the way that we thought it would we can miss it entirely.
We can sometimes be so focussed on what we think something should look like that we can miss the reality when it happens
On Jesus’ final journey into Jerusalem, He wept when He saw the city. He went on to talk about some of the things that would happen, foretelling the Roman siege in 70AD, but the most poignant part for me is when He said that those things would happen because they did not know the time of their visitation (Luke 19:41-44).
In other words – something amazing was happening, but it did not look how they expected it would look, or feel how they expected it would feel. The saviour they had prayed and hoped for arrived, but they missed that and executed Him before going back to praying for a saviour.
We often don’t know what the answer to our prayers is going to look like; we can become so focussed on our thoughts of how God should act and what His method should be that we can miss the way that He does act.
We often don’t know what the answer to our prayers is going to look like.
He created the entire universe, promoted a shepherd to king, sent a saviour on the back of a mule, and chose the biggest persecutor of the faithful to become one of the biggest leaders of the faithful—He still has the power to surprise us!
The bible assures us in so many places that God is for us, that He works all things together for our good, that He plans for us ahead of time, and that He answers prayers. We need to trust that those things remain true and expect that He may outwork them in ways we didn’t see coming, expect the unexpected.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.
– Ephesians 3:20
Let’s not fall into the trap of confining what we believe God can do to us to our pre-conceived ideas and be open to the God of abundantly more. A God who exceeds expectations, but so often not by the method we thought He would use.
Perhaps what you see in your circumstances may not be a golden sun on the horizon. Maybe, like when I watched the sunrise yesterday, clouds will try to distract you and it will seem for a time as though nothing is happening, but when dawn turns to day and everything is illuminated? You’ll know that God is at work.