Lately, I have been sorting through some unmet expectations: Things that didn’t go according to plan (my plan), or weren’t as they seemed (to me). I have, as we all often are, been disappointed over the last several years in various ways – in my career, in love, in where I thought would be now (that is, age 30).
I have also been tremendously surprised and blessed. But still, in the right pursuit of identifying the hand of God in “my story,” I have too often fallen into the trap of shaping Him to the mold of my own limited plot line. I have limited Him to my own perspective and often very fragile take on the course of life.
In the wake of this, I have found myself seeing God as one particular way: He is good, but not that good. He heals us, but He allows tremendous pain that may never diminish. He is powerful, but our little souls and bodies are more subject to the (difficult) circumstances of life and our own weak decision-making than to His leadership.
Did I just create the Creator?
The answer is: Yes. I made Him into my own image – not the other way around. I projected my own personal doubts and personal history onto Him, when deep down I know that God’s ways are infinitely, indescribably different than my own.
And I thank God for that.
Because my own ways are just okay. I am decent at taking care of myself and remaining optimistic. I am fairly mediocre at predicting my own future and choosing my own path. I am often less-than-average when it comes to loving others well. I am just okay.
But God is not just okay. His personality (seen perfectly in Jesus) is beyond good. In fact, to many, it seems too good to be true. But it is. He is perfectly capable of picking up the pieces of any situation and remolding them to His beautifully redemptive plan. He is perfectly willing to take our lives and turn them upside down – in the best of ways – without any work or striving on our part. He is perfectly enough to overcome and transform unmet expectations into joy, peace, anticipation.
I have recently started reading through the book of Exodus again. Exodus is the story of how Moses led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, straight into a supernatural trek across the wilderness. It’s a pretty wild story (think rivers that turn to blood, columns of cloud and fire, and mountains that turn glassy and gemlike in the presence of God*), and every time I read it, something new hits me.
This time, I was struck by this fact: Moses was initially unwilling to say “Yes” to the call of God to deliver his own community from Pharaoh’s shackles. Moses had nothing but, like, a stick, a robe, and a speech impediment. But God “did” the deliverance. He had “heard the cry” of His people** (Israel), and He made sure that they were swept out of cruel and oppressive slavery. He proved Himself not to be the God that Moses thought He could be, but to be the God that He says He is:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.***
Like Moses – and the rest of the Israelite crew – I want to learn this, too. I want to know that God is not who we think He is, or even who we expect Him to be, but the One that surpasses our understanding…the One that guides, leads, and delivers us into unspeakable goodness and fulfillment.
*Exodus 7:20, Exodus 13:21-22, Exodus 24:10
** Exodus 3:9