The Gap Between Expectations and Experience

Jun 14, 2024Lauren Hong

I still remember the first time I beheld the Mona Lisa painting with my own eyes. It was a whole lot smaller than I realized and was roped off a lot farther away than seemed necessary. The experience of this famous artwork was certainly not what I had expected. In that moment, it would have been ridiculous for me to be angry at Leonardo Da Vinci or go storming out of the Louvre. Instead, I stood still, blocking out the noise and bustle of the surrounding crowd, and focused my attention on the piece before me with fresh eyes to find beauty in the detail and complexity of the artwork.

As guest preacher Andrew Cullen did such a wonderful job pointing out, there is often a gap between our expectations and our experience. That space, that wilderness, can leave us feeling lost and confused, angry or abandoned. We might find ourselves wondering if God is really listening to our prayers or if He even cares. Maybe you feel like the Jewish people waiting through “400 years of silence” during the Intertestamental period, questioning if God had completely abandoned them and gone radio silent, their faith in the promised seed-to-come slowly slipping away. But during that time God was still there and He was certainly still at work. And in the gaps between our expectations and our experiences, God is still there, and He is certainly still at work. Wherever you find yourself today, God wants to meet you there. In the space between what we expect and what we experience, there is incredible opportunity for growth and for meeting the Lord as we are and as He is. We serve a God who runs after us and asks us to draw near, whose love is deeper than anywhere our desperation or despair can take us. Even though you might not be able to hear his voice speaking into your life or situation right now, remember that He is walking alongside you, working all things for the good of those who love him.

Between the experience of a forbidden fruit and a broken world and the expectation of a returning king who will make all things new, we are living in a wilderness, in a gap that only the cross can bridge. Are we listening for God’s voice, or are we just looking for his presence? Are we making time to be still and wait for the Lord to move, or are we too busy trying to make things work out the way we want them to? If we are willing to wait upon the Lord in our season of wilderness, that is the space He uses to refine us, prepare us, and provide for us. It may feel small or far off, but do not lose hope that God is using you to create a beautiful work of art in His ultimate masterpiece.