Everyday Ordinary Story: Waiting Expectantly (Without Expectations)Apr 27, 2022
by Jodie Pine
“Mom!” my teenage son cried out, unable to sleep with uncontrollable leg tremors and heart palpitations. When he uttered the words that he thought he was dying, I began throwing the essentials into his well worn hospital bag for another trip to the ER.
Three months earlier, the successful completion of his brain cancer treatment had felt like crossing a finish line. I praised God then for being our anchor who kept us afloat during that life-threatening storm. Finding ourselves back in the hospital now for unexpected, concerning symptoms, I had some words for God that would not be called praise.
I challenged Him with the unfairness of it all and brought up the promise He had given after the devastation by locusts, recorded by the prophet Joel, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten--the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm—my great army that I sent among you.” (Joel 2:25, NIV)
God, are you planning to repay my son? You are aware, aren’t you, of all the damage you have allowed the locusts to cause in his life?
The locust of spina bifida from birth. The locust of encephalitis at age 7 just before his adoption into our family. The locust of brain cancer at age 14. And the locusts medically inflicted on him in the form of chemo and radiation treatment.
Don’t allow yet another locust to take even more from his life, God. Show me what you’re doing. I want to trust that everything happening is part of your plan, but I feel like I can’t right now. There must be goodness here but I can’t see it. I believe your presence must be here but I can’t feel it. I want to see your repaying, your rebuilding, your restoring him. I want to believe that his precious life is safe in your hands. Can I trust your protection over him no matter what happens?
In Invitations from God, Adele Calhoun says, “The difference between waiting for our expectations to happen and waiting expectantly for this moment to unfold is huge. Being present to what is: this is what matters. What is happening here and now is important. What goes on while I wait may become the foundation for some new undreamed-of and unexpected future.”
My expectations of God’s repayment for all that the locusts had taken from my son’s life needed to be placed on the altar. Ultimately, I had no control over the damage of the locusts or whether my son would live or die. But I could choose to wait expectantly and I could decide to be present to what was. As God has been helping me to let go of my expectations of Him while I wait, I’ve found that my open hands can better embrace the unfolding of our unexpected future.
In The Signature of Jesus, Brennan Manning says, “All that we have and are is one of the unique and never-to-be-repeated ways God has chosen to express himself in time and space…With endurance and perseverance we must wait for God to make clear what he wants to say through us. Such waiting involves patience and attention, as well as the courage to let yourself be spoken. This courage comes through faith in God, who utters no false word.”
Through the countless hospital visits and multiple surgeries of these past roller coaster months, God’s unique message through my son’s surrendered life has become increasingly clear. Recently, with incredible self-awareness and God-awareness, he told me, “I think God made me as love, peace, joyful, happiness, content, loved, and joy.”
When I told him how much I’ve learned from him and how much he’s a light for God to others, he broke into a big smile and said, “Oh, I didn’t know that.”
All along his difficult path, he has demonstrated a spiritual maturity beyond his years and a hidden wholeness about his life. He holds strongly onto the hope that God has good plans for him, even though he doesn’t know what to say when someone asks him what he’s going “to be” when he grows up. His cognitive disabilities will prevent him from being independent, but have also allowed him to internalize a deeper dependence on God than most of us typically abled will ever experience.
One of the most important lessons I have learned from my son, as his life has repeatedly hung in the balance, is that everyday ordinary moments matter. I’ve noticed that he’s always on the lookout for his reflection or his shadow so that he can wave to himself. I think we would all do well to regularly check in with ourselves like he does by sending out an uninhibited “I’m here” and by receiving the returning affirmation, “That’s good.”
We can increasingly be present to what is and live expectantly in the moment, ready to fully receive whatever God brings.
Where is God meeting you in the everyday ordinary of your life?
Since her family returned to the US 7 years ago after 20 years of ministry in China, Jodie has transitioned to a role of shepherding global women as they re-enter their passport countries. She has also pursued devotional writing, soul care, disability ministry, and spiritual direction. Her youngest son’s recent cancer journey created unexpected ways of connecting with Jesus’ suffering, marveling at the hope of His resurrection, and growing deeper in gratitude for the love and support of His Body here on earth.
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