Not What I Expected

I’m attempting a new habit – listening to the Bible (from the Bible app) on my phone as I drive to work. Where I always seem to be able to make excuses for other work that needs to be done, I’m trapped in the car for at least 15 minutes alone five days a week. Radio? Off. Bible? On.

Yesterday morning I was listening to Acts 3, starting with the story of Peter and John healing a beggar. The story struck me in a different way, but if you aren’t familiar with the story or need a refresher on verses 1-10, here’s the scoop:

One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.  Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

The bold emphasis above is mine, and that is what struck me. Here is a destitute, disabled man whose daily routine was to be carried to the temple gate to beg for money. Day in and day out, that’s what he expected. Then here come Peter and John. The man asks for money – his normal routine. But these weren’t ordinary men – they were men on fire with the power of the Holy Spirit. When they asked for the man’s attention, his expectation was for the routine and what he thought he wanted – money.

But how he got what he never expected! Instead of the mundane, he got the divine. Instead of a bandage, he received healing. Could he have ever expected that when he was left at his normal place the temple that we would leave that day under the power of his own feet, strong and secure? He only came in expecting small things – a few coins. Instead, he received a miracle.

I was struck with how much this is a reflection of my own lack of vision and faith. Daily I pray for the basics…the mundane….the things that don’t require much faith and that I believe I could provide on my own if I wished. That doesn’t take much faith on my part. I’m very much like this disabled man – expecting to get the routine answers.

But what if I expected greater things from my all-powerful God? What would my prayers be like? Would I ask for different things? With different intensity? With a stronger faith? If I really knew in my bones that God had the power and strength to do miracles, how would that transform me?

I will be searching my own heart for what I expect from my God, praying that I am not making small my omnipotent God.

With new expectations,

Jen Clark

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