What’d You Expect?
     I promised a post about my top 4 Christmas songs. We should be on #3 right now… What gives? I’m getting there. You were expecting one thing and you got another.
     So, how’s that going for you?

     How we react to unmet expectations tells everything about our theology. 

 “To man belong the plans of the heart,
but from the Lord comes the reply of the tongue. (Prov. 16:1)”

The Gap

     The gap between what we expect and what we get is either counted blessing (when we get what or more than we wanted) or bother (when we don’t). Our response to this gap exposes what we believe about God and what He, the world, or life owes us. Shift gears with me for some background.

A Mark, Two Joes, and Questions for Mary
     Mark Lowry was 20 years old when a car accident left him with 11 broken bones. I don’t think he was expecting that when he got in the car. You? Six years later, in his mid 20s, he wrote the lyrics to my number 3 favorite Christmas song. 

     In Genesis, God called Joseph to become Prime Minister of Egypt, but not without decades of trial, testing, and waaaaaiting… In the Gospels, He called another “Joe” to marry the only pregnant virgin in history. Mary was visited by an angel who told her she’d become pregnant outside wedlock, but remain a virgin… and the angel didn’t even have the decency to walk her home and explain the “miracle” to her dad. REALLY?!

Months of physical therapy to recover from an accident…
     Years in prison over a false accusation waiting for God knows what
          Years raising a family in Egypt waiting for Herod to die…
               The eyes of everyone on her knowing she was pregnant outside of marriage waiting for prophecy fulfilled

     They all experienced the gap.

     What do you do in the gap between the miraculous and the mundane?

Hitting the Mark?
     Mark Lowry was asked to write a song. He started with a list of questions he’d like to ask Mary, the mother of Jesus. We all tend to judge the gap. I don’t know if Mark did after his car wreck. I don’t know what Joseph was thinking in prison. Scripture doesn’t tell us what Joseph was thinking in Egypt. Mary broke out in an song of amazing faith. Holidays tend to magnify the impact of unmet expectations… that either make us bite our tongues or unleash on people who ultimately might not deserve it. What if we could take a lesson from Mark?

     He asked a ton of questions that put the downside of the situation out of the spotlight (for the most part). What if we could do the same? What if this Christmas we could all suspend judgment of the gap – I didn’t get what I wanted, they didn’t act the way I wanted, they didn’t say what I’ve hoped they’d say, they still haven’t trusted in Jesus… etc… What if we could, as Mary did, trust in the God who is sovereign over the gap and simply say – “May it be as you have said”? 

     Take a look at the questions Mark Lowry penned when he wrote “Mary Did You Know?” and do your own homework… “Aarron, did you know, that that thing you wanted to happen this year at Christmas is really just a blip on the map and will serve to bring someone you love to Christ in a way you never imagined or hoped?” Can you trust that God’s ways are higher than our ways and His plans always work out better than our fallen, imperfect expectations? Will you trust Him in the gap, the uncomfortable gap, the pregnant lady riding a donkey forty miles over the mountains gap, the cousin-in-law-twice-removed who always makes awkward and insulting remarks at your dinner table gap?

     Can you forgive? Can you articulate your expectations of what you’d like in the future rather than dwelling on the gap of what “should have” happened this time? Can you trust that even though you don’t see a miracle in the middle of the mundane that God is still at work?

     Enjoy one of my favorite renditions of “Mary Did You Know”? And, make a list… and check it… twice…