It’s only human to have many dreams and expectations for the life we want to live. And naturally it seems reasonable to want what we want, and to even pray for these exact outcomes. But life with God often requires us to lose our life in order to find it – to die to our expectations of how things should be to discover the deeper life God is calling us into.
For instance, we might have a dream job and can clearly see how this job might be used to advance God’s kingdom. It is a good dream. But perhaps we’ve become more attached to a particular job description rather than the deeper calling, of which this job is just one example. As such, we might have to die to our expectations of what we thought our work was supposed to look like to open to the fuller reality of what God is calling us into. And it’s here we find our deepest fulfillment, much more than any one particular job.
Likewise, we bring many expectations to our relationships and how they should be. And many of these are very reasonable. But even here there’s a danger of making an idol of these expectations. And we risk shortchanging our relationships and growing increasingly bitter when they consistently fail to meet our self-imposed expectations. Here we must surrender how we thought our relationship should look – trusting in God’s goodness and ability to still meet the true and deepest desires of our hearts.
Of course, dying here doesn’t mean giving up in passive resignation. The vision God has given us often requires us to fight our way into this Promised Land, and endure many dark days along the way. But we must constantly test the spirits to ensure we’re not simply holding on to our pride and what we want, that we miss the deeper life God has for us.
In the end, new life is found by dying to the old. And this often means surrendering many of our good and otherwise reasonable expectations to God – trusting in his goodness to bring us life still.