Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Life Not All You Expected? Read This Excerpt!

Hi Friends,

I've been working on the second chapter of Wrestling With Wonder, my nonfiction book about Mary's journey with God.  This week, I'm thinking about how Jesus fulfills all the promises of the Old Testament and at the same time shatters the expectations that came with those promises.  I've been thinking about how He keeps His promises in our lives, and yet our lives don't match up with our expectations of what ought-to-be either.

God is both the Promise-Maker and also the Expectation-Breaker.  And I find that paradigm explains a lot of the disappointments and doubts that I have in life.  And it helps me to know, in times of darkness and confusion, that God is faithful, but my expectations of life are not his priority.

Here's a little blurb from the rough-rough-rough draft of chapter 2 that I'm thinking through -- what I learned in Bria's baptism and what life is really supposed to be like . . .


What do we do when what we know is true clashes with our expectations? We glimpse God’s dream for us, we surrender our own, and then our expectations paint a glorious picture of everything wondrous that life will be.

Except it isn’t.

But wait a minute! We believed. We surrendered. We know what is true. And yet life looks nothing like we thought it would.

What then? What do you do when truth and expectation conflict?

For me, it’s been an ongoing battle, one that God brought to mind again recently when my my seven-year-old twins were baptized. The water sparkled as brightly as their eyes as they crossed their arms, plugged their nose, and prepared for the moment of submersion. Each were a little scared, a little nervous, but eager to commit their whole lives, surrender their whole selves, to their Savior. It was beautiful moment, a beautiful decision, and their faces glowed with the wonder of it.

Afterward, one of our pastors leaned over and looked into little Bria’s eyes. “Do you think it will be easier to follow Jesus now?”

A grin split her face. “Oh, yes!” She said the words with such enthusiasm, her voice alight with the wonder, the hope, the expectation of a songs-and-daisies walk with her Lord.

It broke my heart.

Because yes, it is easier to follow Jesus when you’re fully committed to him. It’s easy to grasp the hope and wonder when you’ve obeyed, when your heart is His. It’s easier. And yet, it’s not.

Because I know enough of the road ahead to see that her life with God won’t be all songs-and-daisies. Even though I’m sure that Jesus loves her deeply, that He died and rose again so that she might live with Him, I know that life won’t look anything like she expects. It won’t even look as I expect for her.

It will be filled with some glorious moments, some moments when Jesus is so clear, so vibrant that her faith with soar. But, it will also be filled with other moments, moments of confusion, heartache, when Jesus looks nothing like she expected him to be.

There will be times she weeps and wonders why God hasn’t intervened like she believed he would. There will be days of intense doubt, heartbreaking disappointment, broken despair. There will be seasons when her walk with God is anything but easy.

I know all this because I learned that lesson myself. I learned it the hard way. I know, because I’ve been to the mountaintop where I look out on life and see the breathtaking wonder of God in my life and see it shimmering with nothing but joy. And I’ve been to the valley, to the dark places, where I cannot seem to see at all. Where Jesus is unrecognizable, where my expectations lay in tattered ruins at my feet, and I don’t know if I’ll ever find a way to believe again.

I know what it’s like to look for God and see only shadows, to choke on songs of praise that I once sung so easily, to sit in a crumbled heap with the bits of my belief slipping through trembling hands.

I know what it’s like to know all the right things, to proclaim them, and still wail in the darkness ... because expectations have betrayed me.