I was a very young woman when the realization came upon me, that this Christian life ought to be lived EXPECTANTLY. Single and struggling with contentment, the word stuck. In all the aches and crevices, I knew my God was kind, and deep within my bones I held the blessed assurance of His eternal nearness, and so, I came to expect good and not evil from His hand each day. Even when I could not perceive the good I began to expect it.
Expect it. Expectant.
ex·pect·ant / ikˈspektənt/ (adjective) having or showing an excited feeling that something is about to happen, especially something pleasant and interesting. (noun) a person who anticipates receiving something, especially high office.
It's an adjective, an experience, a way of life; living this way, with hope and sweet anticipation. But it's a noun too, a person, with eyes upturned and heart inclined.
It is also the word we choose to describe a woman, getting ready to receive into her heart and home a newborn babe.
Today, I am pleased to introduce you to my friend, Julie Sanders, who has devoted page after page and prayer after prayer to this latter definition, the expecting mother. However, today amidst the Christmas season, Julie is helping us each to slow down and take a lesson from Mary - the expectant mother of our Lord.
Welcome to this Living Room space, Julie Sanders
No experience has the power to stir a woman’s hopes like that of becoming a mother. Whether she enters in through adoption, infertility, or traditional pregnancy, a mother learns to sacrifice her expectations for the gift of raising a child. Instead of being paralyzed by the sudden uncertainty motherhood brings, confidence can be found in knowing, “There will never be a time when our children are out of God’s sight or apart from His presence,” (from EXPECTANT, Calling the Shots). Every journey is unique, but every heart is expectant.
Her betrothal was still fresh when her expectations dissolved in the light of the angel’s arrival. To be old enough to be promised was to be mature enough to bear a child. Before Mary even had time to adjust to changes in her own body or warm up to the name “Joseph,” everything she anticipated fell away. There would be no joyous gathering of girlhood friends, envious of her new status. None of the other girls wanted to swell with a child before uniting with a husband.
At the first sign of a change, Mary was troubled and frightened. She had questions. Before she had time to learn the physical ways of womanhood or enjoy intimacy with a man, her body would be taken over for purposes bigger than she could conceive. “And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. ‘”(Luke 1:30)
Most of us have plans for this Christmas season. No one anticipates interruptions like job loss or a life lost. Unexpected events never appear on our wish list. Advent readings rarely dwell on our suffering. But when our expectations are erased and our decisions dissolve, God has the opportunity to display His grander plan. He takes our hand, leading us to unwelcoming inns, simple stable accommodations, and to exile in our Egypts. Our Father lets us glimpse the greater glory found when life encircles the Prince of Peace.
Motherhood causes our expectations to fall away. From the moment young Mary received her angelic message, nothing unfolded as she imagined, but she found the greater glory in God’s greater plan. “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)
We must hold loosely to our expectations, for Christmas will probably not be according to our plans. Let’s look for God’s greater glory with hearts that are expectant.
Father God, I want to treasure Your actions in my life that bring about the glory of being part of Your story. Help me hold my expectations loosely and welcome your better plans for me.
Julie lives where tea is sweet and grits are cheesy. She and her husband of 25 years have two nearly grown kids. EXPECTANT: 40 Devotions for New and Expectant Moms was born when God brought a group of young couples into their lives, just as they began to long to grow their families. Julie loves to teach God’s word to women in her hometown and across the globe; she is passionate about fighting human trafficking and helping women of all tribes and tongues find God’s peace for life. Check out Julie’s blog home Come Have a Peace (www.juliesanders.org) and Marriage Mondays to find reasons for peace and information about her ministry. EXPECTANT is available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ComeHaveaPeace Twitter: @JulieSanders_ Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/juliesanders_/