I learned a long time ago that expectations don’t match reality.
I used to hype everything up in my head. If I was going to youth group or a party or on vacation, I would paint a glowing image of it in my head. Who would be there and how they would greet me. What I would do first, and what I’d do next. The clever and witty things I’d say to people. I had all of my bases covered.
Of course, from the moment I set foot at my destination, nothing was like how I imagined it. I was always a little less awkward in my head. Things always ran a bit more smoothly in my head. The colors were always a little bit brighter in my head.
I got over it, but I learned my lesson quickly: if I imagine something, it isn’t going to happen.
What were Joshua’s expectations heading into the first major event of his career leading Israel? What was in his head?
In today’s chapter, all he had to do was lead his people across the Jordan River. Of course, without a boat or a bridge or a zipline, it was more complicated than it sounds.
There were a million terrible ways it could go wrong – but there was one impossible way it could go right. So Joshua stepped out in faith.
And God did something amazing.
How do I make that my reality?
Joshua was not the first person to ask God for something, and he sure wasn’t the last. Neither am I. Neither are you. We know God can hear us. We know He is capable of anything. We know He loves us. So how come when I ask Him to do something amazing He doesn’t do it?
I’m not even talking winning the lottery or becoming famous. I’m talking simple things, things He’s supposed to want for me, too. I want to stop committing that sin. I want to see my family member healed. I want to see my depressed best friend smile again.
I have these expectations; these images in my head of what my life and the lives of my loved ones will be like once God answers my prayers.
But then it doesn’t happen, and I’m struggling to understand why the God who worked miracles in the Bible won’t work a miracle for me.
I don’t have all of the answers, but I think verse 5 has one.
Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.”verse 5
The first step was not getting into the Jordan.
The first step was not the miracle.
The first step was consecration, also known as, making oneself holy.
God, through Joshua, instructed the Israelites to prepare themselves. They had to stop thinking unholy thoughts, eating unholy things, and speaking unholy words because the Holiest of Holies was about to come and stand in the middle of them. It was the biggest deal of all the big deals. This wasn’t a regular old day fit for regular old behavior.
Something had to change.
I don’t have all the answers, but maybe God can’t work a miracle in my life until I stop blocking His way with unholy things. How else would He know that He’s welcome here? How else would any lasting change take place in my life? How can I ask for a miracle to take place in the middle of my regular old behavior?
Something has to change.
But change what? If I could do this by myself, why would I even be asking Him for help?
Maybe what needs to change first is my attitude. My words. The way I spend my time. The way I spend my money. My will.
Because if I choose God with all of my heart, won’t He back me up with a miracle?
“I am always working miracles.”
Sometimes we have to wait for our expectations to become reality.
Family members don’t heal overnight. Depression doesn’t disappear in an instant. And temptation is not here today, gone tomorrow.
But in case we lose hope, God reminds us day in and day out that He is in charge of our reality.
Verse 10 declares triumphantly “This is how you will know that the living God is among you”. It goes on to detail exactly what God is about to do for the Israelites.
It’s the same way you and I will know that the living God is among us – by what He does. God has never stopped working in our lives. Whenever we breathe, whenever we smile, whenever we eat something or drink something, whenever we feel Him close to us, whenever He answers even the silliest prayer, whenever His Word touches us, whenever we enjoy our friends and family, whenever our heart beats!
That’s how we know God is working.
That’s how we know God loves us.
That’s how we know that the supernatural miracles, the wild expectations, the impossible imaginings are all possible because the living God is among us.
What do you think? What expectations are you praying for God to make a reality?