Two years ago I was invited to attend, or be in, no fewer than eleven weddings. That is fairly common immediately after college, but an odd convergence at my stage of life. Nonetheless, it was exciting to see all of those unions and the beginning of families.
It should not surprise me, then, that I have several friends who are pregnant or new moms this year. It’s a very exciting time, and a good reminder of expectancy.
WE ‘RE EXPECTING
Announcing a pregnancy is a time of great joy for the parents, friends, and family. Believe it or not, parents used to call their friends and family to tell them (pre-facebook, of course). Invitations would go out for baby showers, announcing, “We’re Expecting!”
The funny part about that phrase is that no one knows WHAT to expect. For those first-time parents, there is the handy-dandy book, What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Mothers typically read more of that book than the fathers, and I was no different. Babies were a new experience for me – I worked with kids who could walk and talk.
I was excited, even in my lack of knowledge. I went to the check-ups, saw the ultrasounds, and helped prepare the apartment. And even with all of that, nothing prepared me for one very memorable appointment.
WE HAVE TO TALK
Following a late-term ultrasound for my oldest son, his mother and I were referred to a specialist. In a different wing of the hospital, we listened to a doctor explain that it was very likely that our son would have Down Syndrome.
She explained it this way: there were three indicators noticed on the ultrasound that, when seen together, are very likely to predict Down Syndrome. Our son had his tongue poking out, had “sandal-toe” (a gap between the first and second toe), and a white spot on his heart. The first two markers could be explained with genetic links (I still do a Michael Jordan-esque poke of the tongue when I’m concentrating), but we had no answer for the spot on his heart.
After some time of explaining, the doctor posed this question, “Would you like to know for sure?”
EXPECTATION VS EXPECTANCY
When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. Acts 21:12, NIV
Paul had just heard from a prophet that he would be bound and handed over to the Gentiles. This was not good news. The good news of the gospel was still in the process of being shared. Many were believing, but there were only a few on the front lines. Paul was one of those few, and his imprisonment would be problematic not only for him, but also for the message of The Way.
Paul’s friends held an expectation – that he would suffer. Paul’s response shows that he had a different expectancy – that the Lord’s will must be done.
Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” Acts 21:13, NIV
GOD IS WITH YOU
In the doctor’s office, we heard some unsettling news. I already felt unprepared to be a parent; I had no idea how I would do as a parent of a child with special needs. After a fairly brief discussion, we determined that an amniocentesis to “know for sure” would not help us meet the needs of our son. The only way to know what he would need was to meet him.
Paul also knew the only way to “know for sure” was to move ahead. Paul’s certainty in his answer was well-founded; God had already shown up many times. Why would he expect anything different in Jerusalem? As you continue reading Acts 21 and 22, you see that Paul was indeed beaten, arrested, and “bound with two chains” (21:33).
It’s one thing to have an expectation. To some extent we all look ahead and plan. But God asks us to live in expectancy. Our state of expecting should be one where we make room for God to move – and to keep moving.
Our son was born without any symptoms of Down Syndrome. That’s his picture below from roughly 12 years ago (the top picture is his handsome father some xx years ago). God asked us to trust Him then, and still asks for my trust. No matter what I have heard, I should move forward saying, “The Lord’s will be done” (Acts 21:14b).
Paul found a way to share his testimony in the midst of all his trials. It wasn’t easy. At one point, “The dispute became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks.” (Acts 23:10)
When you are completing God’s will, God will always make a way. Trust Him. He will comfort and encourage you just as He did Paul in verse 11, “The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, ‘Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.'”
So take a deep breath, and take the next step. The Lord’s will be done.