Expectations (by Lisa Stoll)

We’re told they’re invitations for disappointment.

This world tells us not to have them.

Try as we may to encourage each other to label them as ‘dreams’ and encourage one another to hold tightly to them, we can’t stop the voices in our head from snickering softly and reminding us to tread carefully towards those dreams, towards those expectations, because surely even WE aren’t immune to ‘missing it.’

But regardless of those voices, we all have expectations, dreams, growing in our hearts.

The very first night we came to Soddo, we were asked to think about those expectations.

The ones we had for ourselves on this trip about what we would do and accomplish we were reminded to walk carefully towards, knowing that they might change.

The ones we had for the Lord to do in our lives, we were asked to write down on a piece of paper that only our eyes would see again at the end of the trip.

At 8am on Wednesday morning, before we loaded the van to start the long trip back home to our families, we gathered together again for the last team meeting we would have on this trip.

Tony passed out the pieces of paper we’d written on that very first night in Soddo.

I’m not sure what was running through the minds of the others around me, but I remembered what was on that paper before I began to unfold it.   The Lord had put that expectation on my heart long before I ever even stepped foot on the plane to come to Africa, and I hadn’t been able to get it out of my head all week long.

What do you do when your expectations don’t line up with what you see in front of you?

The world tells you, “I told you so.”

But as I sat there reading those words I’d written less than 2 weeks before, as I began to feel them reach up and try to crush my heart and steal the work God had done this week, the Lord opened my eyes to see it as He sees it.

When we look at our lives through purely human eyes and the human disappointments seem to line up with missed expectations, we miss it.

We miss Him.

9 days earlier, on the first night I ever spent in Soddo, Ethiopia, I’d written down the expectations He’d put on my heart.

Two people, Lisa.  Two people are going to be raised from the dead.

Sounds like a beautiful dream, doesn’t it?

All week I’d been watching for it.  I’d even gotten up the courage to share what He’d impressed on my heart with the team.

But there I was, only minutes away from loading up and leaving this place, and I found myself walking the tightrope between what He told me to write down and what my eyes saw.

Thank the Lord He didn’t leave me there or I would’ve fallen flat on my face.

Over the next 39 hours as we traveled from the hospital to our own beds back home, He walked me through room after room after room where He’d raised the dead in front of me even though I’d missed it.

Remember, Lisa.  Remember.

Remember that young pregnant girl who was close to losing her baby because of where her placenta was.  I put you in that room as the doctor examined her and gave you the courage to ask to pray for her.  Remember when you went back to visit her and she was gone? Life from the dead.

Remember that young married couple that had been trying for years to get pregnant only to come to the walk-in clinic the hospital holds and find out that, due to a birth ‘defect’ in the man’s body they would never be able to get pregnant ever? I put you in that room as the doctor told them it was hopeless and I prompted that doctor to ask YOU to speak life where he couldn’t see any.  I could’ve brought that couple into any hospital in the country but I brought them to Soddo, just when I brought you there, because I knew you’d let me speak through you.  And I knew you wouldn’t take ‘never’ for an answer.  Life, from the dead.

Remember that baby boy who was barely moving in his hospital bed because of pneumonia and malaria? Remember how his momma wouldn’t let you leave the room without praying for him when she realized that’s what you were there for? Remember how you never saw him again – because the nurse released him to go home after he improved so much? Life from the dead.

Remember that midwife that came and grabbed your arm on the very last day you spent in the hospital? Remember how you didn’t know what was going on but she dragged you to that vacant delivery room and asked you to pray for her with tears in her eyes?  Remember how she said “God would know why?” Remember how she fell to the floor as you prayed? You didn’t know who I wanted to wrap up in my arms through your heart on this trip, but I did.  Life from the dead.

“Remember MY expectations, Lisa.

Remember MY heart.

And if your eyes don’t see what I’m doing through your life, ask me for MY eyes to see it.”

I almost missed it.  I almost caved to the lie that expectations are meant to be broken.

I almost got stuck on what my human eyes could see in front of me.

And although getting stuck in disappointment wouldn’t have changed the reality that God DID do some amazing things through the time He gave me at Soddo, it would’ve stopped my own heart from being able to reap the benefits of SEEING it.

Of seeing HIM.

Expectations.

The world thinks we need to lower them.

“2 people, Lisa. I prompted you to ask for life from the dead for 2 people.  Look how I blew that out of the water.”

Maybe we need to quit believing what the world tells us, and start looking to what God says.

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly ABOVE all that we dare ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work inside of us.” Ephesians 3:20.