Inspecting Your Expectations

Hearing God’s Voice Series | Part 2

The word ‘expectation’ has a variety of connotations to it. Perhaps you remember as a child (or currently as a parent of children) a phrase such as “I expect you to do your homework.” As such, the word ‘expect’ can carry a negative weight that reminds you of certain responsibilities you want to avoid.

The truth is, we all have expectations in this life. Students have high expectations that their studies will pay off and that they will land a great job out of college. Parents have the best intentions for raising their children to become mature adults. We have expectations we set for ourselves, ranging from what we should achieve for the day to measure where we are at in life in comparison to our peers.

The problem with HIGH expectations

As for myself, I can ‘expect’ too much of myself at times. I don’t know about you, but I tend to have more grace for others than I do for myself. Maybe it is the thought that I cannot control others actions or lack thereof, but I can certainly be in charge of what I do or don’t do. I need to be faithful with a few things so I can be faithful with many things (Matthew 25:23). Therefore, I have an internal ‘gauge’ that determines my productivity at the end of the day by how much I accomplished or not. Here’s the problem: I can rarely accomplish all that I set for the day because my expectations are too high. Many times, I have insufficient time, unrealistic measures, and other undetermined factors that do not allow me to ‘hit’ these goals. As a result, I can be disappointed or dissatisfied with what I have done that allows me to be vulnerable to critical thoughts in my mind.

The problem with LOW expectations

Of course there’s the flipside to this as well.

Have you ever heard sentences like these before?

“Nothing good ever happens to me.”

“I don’t think I’m qualified enough for the job.”

“There’s no point in trying because I’m just going to fail anyway.”

“God doesn’t seem to answer my prayers, so why should I pray?”

These phrases all represent people like us who have spoken these similar words over our own lives. Let’s admit it, we’ve all been there. We’ve spoken this way and have felt this way because reality has not lived up to the expectations we’ve set for ourselves. As a result? We’ve been hurt. We’ve been disappointed. We’ve gotten angry with God and closed Him out in certain areas of our lives. It might even feel better that way because no one wants to continue to be in pain or in a loss.

Yet when your expectations are low, especially for the Holy Spirit working in and through your life, God’s manifest presence (the outward working of what you can see Him doing through you) is low as well. The Lord operates on faith, which requires in most instances, a degree of risk. It’s to trust Jesus in the midst of the chaos. To push past the negativity and criticism you face from your critics. When you have low expectations, you are ‘playing it safe’ so you won’t get hurt again. But what if the Holy Spirit wants to reveal something to you or operate through you on a whole new level? Imagine… you trust Him and He actually came through? That would be an incredible reason to celebrate! You have a new bar that is set because God proved to you in that instance that He met or surpassed what you expected. Your trust in Him revealed His care for you!

That is why I appreciate the prophet Habakkuk since he modeled for us a proper position of expectancy when it comes to hearing the Holy Spirit’s voice. Although you might have never heard of this guy or the book He wrote, he was a man who needed an answer from God.  He knew God and had a degree of expectation that he could trust in. His process serves as a perfect example for us to position ourselves to hear God today.

  1. WAIT IN FAITH

Who likes to wait? How about waiting for impending doom? Well for Habakkuk, that’s exactly where he was at and it was quite difficult, to say the least.

Habakkuk was perplexed that wickedness, oppression, and injustice were prevalent in Judah and God seemingly did nothing about it (Habakkuk 1:1-4). Worse was the answer that the Lord gave him the first time – that God was going to raise up the ruthless Babylonians to bring judgment on Israel!  How could God, who is “too pure to look on evil” (1:13), appoint such a nation “to execute judgment” (1:2) on a people “more righteous than themselves” (1:13)?

It is in Habakkuk 2:1  that reveals the expectation Habakkuk had for God in the midst of his confusion, distress, and concern:

I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts [guardpost]; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.”

Have you ever complained to God? From the looks of it, it’s not a bad place to start! Habakkuk had a relationship with God where it was so solid, that he KNEW God would answer him. As a result, he was willing to wait. He didn’t simply vent to God and walk away – He was willing to station himself properly and wait in expectancy for the answer God would give him.

Now here’s the thing – there’s a difference between expecting and assuming. Habakkuk was in expectation that God would answer but was not assuming that God would answer the way he wanted. This would be wrong and shows how if we want God to do our bidding, it’s not trusting Him for the results. When we assume, we presume God is supposed to answer the way we want and are disappointed because it didn’t happen the way it should have according to our own thinking. For example, you have a job interview and you pray to God it goes well. If you assume that since you pray, are a ‘good Christ follower’ and tithe, your presumption is that you’re going to get the job. However, for whatever reason…you don’t. Now you’re angry with God because your assumption led to false expectations that were never meant for you to have in the first place. Our relationship with God is not based on appeasement, but on trust in love. Perhaps God has better plans but you cannot see it since currently, you are bitter towards Him and misguided by rejection.

2. POSITION YOURSELF

As briefly mentioned above, Habakkuk didn’t toss up a quick prayer to God and continue on with life not thinking about it ever again. He was waiting with anticipation. How do we know? Habakkuk talks about the position he takes while waiting – “I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guardpost” (NLT).

A watchman had to be alert, constantly looking out in the distance for the enemies sneak attack. If a watchman fell asleep while on duty, that could result in many deaths of his people, including the capture of the city. Habakkuk is waiting in such expectancy for his answer, that it is like being on duty on a watchtower.

What would that be like for us?

It’s being in continual conversation with God. Mediating in the Word; fasting to draw near to God; Being in prayer when you have downtime – It’s positioning yourself to be ready to hear when God gives you the answer because if you do… I believe that the answer will come.

Here are a few verses that demonstrate the purpose of having an expectant heart to hear the Holy Spirit’s voice that you can meditate upon for this week:

“In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” – Psalm 5:3

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope {expectancy} is from him.” – Psalm 62:5

“As for me, I look to the LORD for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me.” – Micah 7:7

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” – Jeremiah 33:3

Just as Habbakuk recorded this conversation between him and God, it would be a wise decision to write down your questions, thoughts, and responses you will have with God this week. Start with that which is burdening your heart – what answer are you waiting for God on? How can you wait in faith and position yourself to hear what the Holy Spirit wants to tell you? I’d recommend writing down your conversation since this is simply another method to position yourself in expectancy to hear what the Lord might be speaking to you about. My hope and my prayer for you is as you expectantly wait, your prayers are answered- surpassing that which you are hoping for!

 “Now 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 in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21

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