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Expectations for a New Year

The days between Christmas and New Years have always felt like the Never-Never land at the end of the calendar. The emotions and activity of December clears the summit on Christmas day then like a ball, rolls slowly downhill toward a new year.  For me these days always settle in a corner of my heart and stomach with a knotty combination of disappointed let down and apprehensive fear of the unknown.

I’m not completely sure why this week makes me feel itchy and more than a little wonky.  But driving home from Colorado over the weekend a word kept surfacing in my mind that may help me nail down the reason.

I’m beginning to think this week’s weirdness has to do with the loaded bag called expectations. The almost vacuumed hush following Christmas expectations gives me just enough down time to dread all the new and improved ones that rise up like a predator around the corner.

There is so much riding on expectations of the new year. Anxiousness creeps down the chimney of this in between week like Scrooge.  A striving toward more/better mixed in a cocktail of fear of the future. I’ve learned much about expectations in my adult life and no lesson more repeatedly than this:

Expectations kill joy.

Paul David Tripp has become one of my favorite authors. This week words from his book A Quest for More: Living For Something Bigger Than You rose off the page like a 2015 hope filled balloon. After quoting the wisdom of Deuteronomy 10:12-22, he wrote the following question and comment…

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It struck as the perfect remedy to replace the striving role of more/new/better/faster expectations for the new year. (And it was another confirmation of the one word I’m chewing on for 2015, but I’ll share that another day.)

Tripp’s words echo with comforting truth in the call to respond to the things already crawled up and crowded on my lap with kingdom vision. Simple as that.

Peace is replacing itchiness as God reminds me to allow truth to shape my expectations for a new year. The truth is that I control so very little. That I seek new dreams and improvement of the old ones isn’t bad, but the foundation on which to rest is that God’s will for me is to just bring him glory, regardless of where the days of 2015 wander. To bring Him glory in light-filled,energetic, on track days and glory in scary, dark-filled, fearful nights. For this I am sure; there will be both.

The only expectation that doesn’t ultimately disappoint and kill joy is the absolute assurance that God will be waiting for me and with me in all the days ahead. Joy comes when I trust and submit to living days led toward the glory of God’s will. Discontent and worry come when I try to lead myself toward my own expectations. When I set expectations for my life without regard to glorifying the One who made me, I grasp blindly at the controls over events unseen and uncontrollable. And this usually causes the story of my life to run straight off the tracks.

These are the thoughts that echo around my brain at the dusty end of 2014. His promises need to be my expectations for 2015.  I need to seek new eyes to see the things already filling my plate. I will make plans and dream dreams, but I will hold them loosely. There are some plans and resolutions growing inside, but my desire is to have a flexible heart to change them willingly toward the greater glory for God.

Grace and peace and a light touch on the reins. Sounds to me like the best way to be led toward a good story.

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