With Expectant Faith

I recently finished reading the book Everything Sad is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri. It’s a beautiful tale of immigration and faith and risking everything for an uncertain future.

It’s a true story, although cleverly told as though the author is still twelve years old, living in the thick of it. The hero in the story is his mother. He describes her many times as “unstoppable.”

I’m sure his mother would tell the story differently. While her courage in leaving behind an affluent life in Iran for the sake of her faith is undeniable, I imagine there were times she didn’t feel as strong as her beloved son paints her to be. I’m sure there were places along the journey where she just wanted to curl up and cry. I doubt she felt unstoppable at every road block that stood in her path. I’m sure that courage was sometimes a thing she mustered for her children’s sake alone.

But the author sees her as unstoppable. Despite the storms that surely raged within her soul.

I don’t think it is spoiling the story to tell you how the author speculates she managed through all those dreadful years of wondering and waiting.

“Maybe it’s anticipation,” he wrote. “Hope. The anticipation that the God who listens in love will one day speak justice.”

I’ve been rolling those words around in my head for a week now, molding them into the gaps in my heart.

This is the kind of faith I knew God was looking to instill in me this year when He burdened me with the word Expectant.

Daniel Nayeri wrote in his book that what you believe about the future changes how you live in the present. That was the secret that made his mother an unstoppable force.

That is the secret that could unlock everything.

I’m going to be honest, my future has been looking pretty grim from my recent point of view. So I’ve had to change what I expect from the future. I’ve had to become one of those sojourners who believe there is something beautiful awaiting me at the end of this journey.

I’ve had to look toward the future with hope. Anticipation. Expectancy.

There is more, there is more, there is more.

All I have to do is claim it.

I’m learning (albeit slowly) to claim it. To be the kind of unstoppable Daniel Nayeri believes his mother to be. To have the kind of unshakeable faith that will say, “This is not the end. Mountains, move out of my way.”

Because I believe in the God who holds those mountains. I may feel as though I have come to the end of my being, but He is everlasting. He endures in both love and justice.

My story is not over yet. Dawn will break on the dark night of the soul. And I will choose to rise and meet it with hope in my heart, with anticipation in my soul, with an expectant faith.

What If? What Now?

The past is a funny thing. It shapes our lives and never gives us a chance to go back and change anything ~ no matter how badly we may want to. Last night, I found myself asking a dozen “what if” questions, trying to imagine what my life would be like had I reacted differently in a certain circumstance.

The problem with “what if” is that it generally begins with a regret. And before you know it, you’re in over your head regretting things. Thankfully, my “what ifs” ended with “What if it’s better this way?” and “What if this is what God intended all along?” But that isn’t always how the story goes.

“What ifs” have a tendency to leave us in the past and keep us from enjoying the present. “What ifs” have a habit of leading to more “what ifs.” Before you know it, your life is a serious of doubts. But you see, even in the midst of the hardship and struggle, the questions and uncertainty, God is ultimately in control of our lives. Not one decision escapes His notice. Not one choice slips through the cracks. God knows exactly what is coming around the corner, and we can rest secure in the fact that He is making something beautiful from the ashes of our lives.

I’m not saying you won’t have regrets. Unfortunately, we all make choices we’re not very proud of. There will be moments that you stop to wonder, but you can’t let those questions tie you to the past. Instead of “what if,” ask “what now?” Take the lessons you’ve learned and put them into practice. After all, you can’t change the past, but you can change the future.