God’s Plan: Grace For Unmet Expectations
Maybe at some point you thought you knew who you were, who you would be, and all that you were doing would somehow lead you to the life you’ve always dreamed of. There was a time when you set goals and expectations for yourself and your plan for achieving them seemed flawless.
Growing up, I had a Plan A. The plan was that if I worked hard enough, I would get into my dream school. If I studied hard enough, I would get my dream job upon graduation in the city I’ve always wanted to live in - far from all that was familiar. These were the expectations I set for myself and how I measured success.
You’ve dreamed of your career, the destinations you’ve always wanted to travel to, the city you would live in, your ideal weight, marriage, motherhood - and in the midst of your determination, maybe you found yourself falling short of the person you thought you would be and the things you would accomplish.
It’s Okay to Forgive Yourself
When Jesus chose to die on the cross, He chose you. He chose me. He chose us. When we accept Him into our life, He calls us forgiven. We are forgiven of our sins, the life we used to live, the life we wanted to live, and the person we were striving so hard to be and couldn’t become. In choosing Christ, we are free from the expectations of this world that we set for ourselves.
In Ephesians 2:4-8 (NLT), Paul says,
“But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For He raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of His grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all He has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”
It takes us so much longer to accept and receive grace over our lives. But the moment we turn to Jesus Christ to repent of our sins and ask for forgiveness, we are walking in the goodness of God’s grace. We have the ability to extend the same grace and forgiveness to ourselves when we fall short because God has so freely given it to us.
New Life in Christ
When we accept Christ, we are renewed and restored. The things of this world are no longer the things we should be striving for.
Colossians 3:1-3 (NLT) tells us, “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.”
Often times we can find ourselves believing that real life begins with our dream jobs, a relationship, and the things that we want to achieve. The perception the world tells us is that we’re supposed to look for these things, strive for these things, and find fulfillment in these things in order to live out our real lives.
But Paul confirms that your real life is hidden with Christ in God. No matter what season of life you’re walking in, real life is not someday. Our real lives are not somewhere along the way when we finally have it together. Our real lives are hidden with Christ in God. We can dwell in that, knowing we no longer need to worry about meeting the expectations of this world.
Laying Down Plan A
For so long, I’ve felt like I’ve been living Plan B and I had to get back on track to plan A. But what if Plan B was God’s plan all along? What if this was the life He wanted you to live all along so that you would grow closer to Him, so that you would know His heart and so He could mold you into who the person He created you to be?
Over the past couple of years, I’ve been learning God can’t fully operate in us if we’re holding on so tightly to Plan A. Jeremiah 29:11 confirms that our Heavenly Father knows the plans He has for us. Plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future. In order to operate in God’s will for us we have to surrender the life we’ve always dreamed of for the life God wants for us.
Some days are definitely harder than others, especially when it seems as though life is moving so much “faster” among our family, friends, and acquaintances. Some days, the uncertainties can be overbearing. Some days, there’s a temptation to just “go for it.” In those moments when I catch myself feeling this way, my prayer of surrender is often this:
Lord, I surrender my heart at the foot of the cross again. Forgive me for the things I decided to pick back up. Today, I lay them back down at your feet. I surrender my job, my career, and my future to you, Father. Thank you for your unwavering love over a sinner like me. Thank you for your grace and the peace you give.
Come With Expectancy
What are some of the expectations you set for yourself? Are you holding on to a dream you want to achieve so badly? As you reflect, discern, and process, my encouragement to you is to bring all of those things to the foot of the cross. Pray, and pray some more.
Psalm 139: 5-6 (TPT) reminds us God has already gone before us.
“You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way, and in kindness you follow behind me to spare me from the harm of my past. With your hand of love upon my life, you impart a blessing to me.”
May we lay down our expectations of what life should be like and come with expectancy that God has a plan much greater than what we could envision for ourselves.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dena is a storyteller, artist, dreamer, doer, and follower of Jesus Christ. Week by week, you’ll find her bringing new ideas to life in the marketing world, preparing and teaching a small group Bible study, and scribbling down her thoughts and new ideas in a cafe. She loves writing, traveling, poetry, photography, and connecting with people beyond the small talk.