Great Expectations

What does God expect of us?

What is the best thing in the world? To please its Creator. What is His will? To fulfill what He has commanded, that is, to live rightly and dutifully, to seek for the eternal; for duty and justice are the will of Him Who is dutiful and right.

  - Columbanus, Sermon III, Irish, 7th century[1]

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the L
ORD require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?

  - Micah 6.8

Theoretically, at least, most Christians are aware that God has expectations for us. In practice, however, we seem to be the ones holding out the expectations – for what God should to do for us.

We want to be happy and at peace. We don’t want to be disturbed or troubled, especially not where our faith is concerned. We want smooth sailing and good feelings. And, while we may not come right out and say it, we expect God to deliver for us.

It’s true that we should have expectations of God. We should expect that He will be unchanging, that He will always act in line with His Word, will never fail in His promises, and will surround us with steadfast love all the days of our lives.

But we should also expect Him to test and try us, stress and stretch us, and send us out into the world like sheep among wolves. This, after all, is only what He has said He would do.

We should also expect Him to grant us power to be His witnesses, open doors of opportunity for talking about Jesus, and give us just the words we need at such times.

We should expect the Lord to give us gifts for serving others, and to bring out in us holy, spiritual fruit, which causes us to shine like lights in a dark world.

We should expect God to meet all our needs through His riches in glory by Christ Jesus, and to enable us to do whatever He expects of us, for the praise of the glory of His grace.

Yes, God has expectations for us, and they relate to seeking Him and doing His will. If we pursue the life of faith merely to please ourselves, we’ll never find full and abundant life, because nothing we might know, achieve, possess, or experience can provide the real joy and pleasure we seek. We’ll always be whining to God about some inconvenience, shortfall, want, discomfort, slight, or oversight, that we would very much like Him to redress so that we could, you know, be happy.

But what God requires of us is not that we be happy, but that we pursue the course in life marked out by His expectations. For as we chart and follow that course, He meets us with all His presence, promises, and power to bring us into His pleasure and to know His joy – joy far surpassing the paltry happiness we tend to seek for ourselves.

When, with much strenuous effort and constant struggle, our lives begin to reflect the justice, mercy, and humility that are the pleasure of the Lord, then we will begin to know what full and abundant life really is. For the life we most earnestly desire does not consist in things or conditions, but in God – in knowing Him and doing His will. In dwelling continuously in His Presence and joy.  Then our lives refract His glory, as we are conformed to the image of His Son. Then the joy we know is unspeakable, indescribable, and unlike anything this world can provide.

Christian life is God-centered first of all, and only secondarily about our needs or wants. When all we seek is the Lord, when all we want is to know His pleasure, when all our efforts and exertions are bent at living within His expectations, then and only then will we find the fullness of joy and pleasure forevermore that we too often seek in created things and favorable conditions.

For real joy and lasting, holy pleasure come only from being in the Presence of God (Ps. 16.11), presenting our lives to Him through His Spirit and Son, and knowing His pleasure in our every act of obedience.

Only then will His great expectations be satisfied – and ours, in Him.

For Reflection
1. How do you typically seek to enter the Presence of God?

2. God tells us to “wait” on Him as we seek Him. What does that mean?

Psalm 116.7-14 (Mit Freuden Zart: All Praise to God, Who Reigns Above)
Full well the Lord has dealt with me; my soul from death He delivered.
My weeping eyes, my stumbling feet, He has redeemed forever.
Forever I before His face shall walk with those who know His grace,
and dwell with them forever.

Afflicted, I believe His Word, though lying men would undo me.
What shall I render to the Lord for all His blessings to me?
Salvation’s cup I lift above and call upon the God of love
and pay my vows most truly.

Lord, I want to know Your Presence and pleasure in all my ways; raise my sights, and help me to… 

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T. M. Moore
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All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



[1] Walker, p 73.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore