When God Doesn't Show Up as Expected

11:51 AMHeather

Yesterday was not an easy day.  Not for any particularly difficult or trying reason.  Just one of those days.  A culmination of little things. The tipping point came when a tangible reminder surfaced of a yet unfulfilled prayer request.  Something we've been praying about for nearly two years.  Something we thought would long ago be answered and over and done.  We never fathomed it would be such a long, drawn out process--to wait on God.  The silence can be deafening.  Crickets chirping.  

You know the drill.  Because I think a lot of us are in seasons of waiting.  My friends waiting for their adoptions to go through.  Our friends dealing with infertility.  Friends ever praying for the spouse and family they thought would have come by now.  

Our situation is not so dire, not so all encompassing.  Yet it is still emotionally draining to petition repeatedly and expect movement and closure when God seems to keep you in the waiting room instead.

So, I sorta got wound up with my frustration.  Irritable.    

Only this time, I decided to take a different approach.  Rather than stewing in it, I sat in my bedroom chair and pulled out my Bible to read and journal.  Lest you think more of me than you should, let me be clear.  It was more of a direct challenge for God to somehow show Himself as hearing me than it was an act of humble obedience.  

I've learned that I don't think He minds so much when we come to Him honestly, even bitterly or with anger.  Because He just wants us to come to Him and lay it out for Him.

John 12:12-19 was my IF Equip reading for the day.  

Yawn.  Palm Sunday.  "Okay, interesting timing with the celebration of Palm Sunday approaching.  But, to be honest, I'm sitting here needing you, God, to show up in some promise about waiting.  Maybe write on the wall about the answer we want.  Or maybe even a hint of the length of this marathon that we thought would be a sprint." 

You know.  I just wanted Him to make it clear.  I didn't want to work at it.  

Yet I pressed on.  I read and reread these few little verses about Palm Sunday and Jesus entering Jerusalem and the admiring crowds and the confused disciples and the angry religious zealots.  

Maybe I needed a cup of coffee.  Because I just couldn't connect it at first.

Yet, there it was. I finally saw it.

Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion, see, your King is coming, seated on a donkey's colt.  At first his disciples did not understand all this.  Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.  John 12:15-16

Suddenly, it hit me how very much this passage speaks to those of us that expected God to show up in some way...but He hasn't.  

You see, sometimes the movements of God can be seen first hand, by faithful disciples, from a front row seat even.  And they are still not understood until hindsight kicks in.  The magnitude of these movements--as fulfillments of promises and answered prayers--can be completely missed even by those of us who are watching for them.

It's only in looking back can we see how He moved.  Do we take the time to stop and reflect and ask Him to show us how He was moving all along?

Jesus often surprises us.  These weeks in the book of John are emphasizing that point again and again.  We box God in and expect Him to show up and answer in some specific way.  Like those who missed that God had come to earth as Messiah because He came as a tiny, helpless baby in a filthy stable to an unwed virgin teen.  

Not exactly the conquering hero the oppressed Israelites had hoped for, generation after generation.  

Jesus often does not meet our expectations.  

And we shake our heads in frustration and angst.  Because we think too much of our own abilities to plan things out.  And we lack the reckless trust in a God who created all that is from absolutely nothing.  

This is me.  Repeatedly.  In fact, the day before yesterday, I hashed this waiting season out with God.  You know--just in case He forget about us and our constant whining about it.  And for good measure--in case He who sustains the universe wasn't quite sure how to rule our world--I let him know an ideal timing and solution.  
It should make Him shake his head and distance Himself.  

But not at all.  Because of His grace, He brought me to John 12:12-19 and said, "Check this out.  Here's a direct message about your season of waiting."

Jesus may not meet our expectations, He may surprise us with his timing or his methods or his plans.  But, He never ever fails us. In fact, God's movements exceed the limited ways we conceive of them.

Jesus came on a donkey.  Humbly.  To a crowd of commoners gathered for the feast.  Not to nobility or to great fan fare.  But to the villagers who threw down palm leaves, which are a sign of victory.  In so doing, He fulfilled ancient prophesy.  

Jesus did not enter Jerusalem in a grand showy fashion as we might expect.  Just like there are issues in our live where we wish He'd show up in a big spectacular way.  

Yet He is victorious, fulfilling all promises.  He is surprising and unexpected in how He shows up.  When He shows up.  And it may look to us like the worst plan ever.  But it is ultimately the best plan.  We could see that if we can get past our limited expectations and rest in however He chooses to show up.  

Lest you think I'm going all "Christianese" with some empty cliches, let me expound with some facts of the matter.

When a leader entered a city on a horse, he was coming to war and conquer.  When a leader entered on a donkey, he was coming in peace.

You see, we want Jesus to ride in on a horse, declaring WAR on our circumstances.  

But instead, He rides in as the Prince of Peace to accomplish an eternal plan of defeating all sin.  All death.  All wrong.  Redeeming us forever in one single act of the greatest love and grace, and it blows our minds.

Here's what John 12:12-19 showed me about God not showing up as I expect.

I want Him to win my battles, riding in on a great military horse.  But He enters on a donkey's colt, peacefully, in order to win my WAR.  To settle all matters.  Once and for all.  Victory. Forever.

For every issue, we can remember this.  Our king is coming.  Seated on a donkey's colt.

As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”  Romans 10:11

If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.  2 Timothy 2:14

Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.  Isaiah 64:4 

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