Expectations, part 1 (All that God has or nothing at all)

I pray that you…may be able….to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God. – Eph. 3:17-19

Maybe it’s the rule-breaker in me, but I sometimes resist expectations. Case in point, this is my new year’s post – a full 3 weeks into  2014, after people have already determined that exercise is overrated and eaten french fries when they said they wouldn’t.

Anyway, that word expectation has had me thinking on all sorts of levels lately. I read a quote by A.W. Tozer and have been wrestling with it ever since: “I want the presence of God Himself, or I don’t want anything at all to do with religion…I want all that God has or I don’t want any.”

If you know much at all about the Bible, the prospect of all that God has probably seems a little scary. After all, when Abram chose all of God, it cost him his home and almost cost him his son, too. When the disciples chose all of Jesus, they had to leave their jobs. Then after He ascended to heaven and they chose all of Him again, they became radicals, preaching the gospel to everyone at any cost. All that God has includes His power – the same power that breathed life into existence, parted the sea, cast out demons, healed people, and broke all the rules of time and space in sending Jesus to earth and raising Him from the dead. All that God has also includes His love, mercy, grace, wisdom, and discipline. And these only scratch the surface.

The danger for believers is that we can carry the knowledge of God around like neatly packed luggage instead of wrapping ourselves up in it. Far scarier than being filled with all the fullness of God is that we can live life with just a little bit of Jesus.

The question isn’t whether or not the fullness of God is available to us. We don’t receive only a little bit of God’s presence or an immature version of the Holy Spirit when we trust in Jesus and follow Him. But to what extent are we aware of Him? How do we appropriate His presence in daily living? What is our expectation of God? Is it so big that we want all of Him or nothing at all?

If my greatest hope is that 2014 will be better than 2013, in the circumstantially focused ways that I define it, then I underestimate God’s character and power. If my biggest request of God today is for Him to help me do a good job at work or meet my personal health goals, then the Messiah’s love still far surpasses my knowledge of Him.

And I wonder what would happen this year if, instead of accepting just a little bit of Jesus, we invited God to fill us with all that He has


Next week’s devotional post: Expectation of self.

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