He hands me another rose. Although it should have opened fully, the stunted blossom never has. “This rose is the expectation of disappointment.”
His words echo, resounding powerfully in my ears. Is it true? Do I really—yes, yes I have expected disappointment. I did expect that something would have to go wrong, that the promise would not be brought to completion, that I would never quite reach the goal. I have never seen this before, but He is so right! This hideous expectation has colored everything I have done.
“This will require correction to change.” His voice is gentle, there is no anger in His words, only love. I hear in His voice a desire to give me more, to take from me the hurts and limitations and replace them with His grace and I am overcome with such love.
“Come, share your heart with Me.” He instructs, taking my arm once again to walk with Him in the garden.
I cannot help myself, I take His hand for a moment, kissing it and whisper, “Thank you Papa, thank you for this.”
Lovingly, He presses His hand to my check. He says nothing, but He dos not have to. We begin to walk.
As we walk, the thorns from the shriveled rose of disappointment begin to tear at my hands. As they do, I hear the voice of the expectation rising in my ears: “You do not deserve more than that! Don’t complain, settle with what you have and be happy for it!” The words are familiar, I have heard them often. I shake my head softly, seeing how much of my life these words have colored. I hear the soft chimes of grace in my ears and remember what He told me, not to hide my wounds from Him. So I show Him my hands, tell Him what I have heard.
“Yes, child, these are the issues which need correction.” He confirms what I already know. His arm entwined in mine, we walk back towards the rove, to the tree, that place of correction. We have been there so many times it seems. I think it would be unbearable but for His unrelenting, unwavering love and restoration. The voices of my expectations are growing louder now, threatening to drown out the chimes.
“Come, His voice is firm, clear above all the other voices. “Let me correct your heart, your expectations.”
I nod, bracing myself against the lower branch, anticipating the need for its support. “Please, Papa, help me change.” My voice is only a whisper.
He begins. He shows me how I have allowed this expectation to steal from me the very things He had promised. I was refusing to hang on to what He wanted to give me. He was trying to give to me and I was refusing to receive from Him to fulfill this expectation!
I cry out in frustration at myself and my sin, at how my sin has denied me the ery things He’d promised and I had so longed for. It was me—my own sin that kept me from all He promised! Not Him, He never failed! It was me!
He continues and shows me even more. The root of all this has been in my lack of faith, my failure to believe that He has meant all His promises! Somehow I have been convinced that these promises really were not mean for me.
I am broken, I grieve for the truth in what He shows me. “Forgive me, Papa! Please! I repent! I repent for calling you a liar, for not believing that you meant what you said! Papa, I’m so sorry, sorry for rejecting you gifts, for refusing them and blaming you for it! Oh, Papa! I repent, I’m so, so sorry, Papa, I’m sorry.” I bury my face in my hands and cry with gut wrenching sobs.
He puts His strong hand on my shoulder. I am so aware of its weight and warmth there as He patiently wits for me to calm. “Now, take the rose and come with Me.” He takes my arm and walks us to the moat surrounding the castle.
Stopping at the waters edge, He guides me to sit down. “Take the rose, crumble it and feed it to the fish.”
The colorful koi are playfully gathering at our feet. They are so alive! I begin to crumble the brittle rose and sprinkle it into the water. Quickly the little fish consume the rose.
“The stem as well,” He admonishes.
I obey and the rose is gone. I quietly sit, empty handed, wondering what is next. He says nothing, but gestures toward the water. A large, darkly colored koi swims to me and bumps up against my foot once, then again.
“Look—“ He points toward the fish.
As I bend down toward the koi, I see something glimmer. The fish has something in its mouth! It holds still while I remove it. Lifting the object into the light I can see it is a gold coin on a short gold chain. The fish swims away, leaving me gazing in surprise at its gift.
Amazed, I cry out, “Oh, Papa! What does this mean? I don’t think I understand.”
He does not reply, but gestures again toward the water. The fish has returned! There is something in its mouth again. Reaching for it, I find another gold coin! The fish returns again and again until I have ten coins hanging from the chain in my hand!
Finally, He speaks. “This is to be your new expectation, child. Let abundance replace your expectation of disappointment.”
I am confused for a moment. Abundance is not the opposite of disappointment—it is something better! “Papa!” I have no other words.
“Shhh. Listen to Me for a moment. “His voice is suddenly firm. “No not be reluctant to expect Me to fulfill the promises I have given you according to My word. Give me your hands.”
I reach toward Him and He takes my hands in His, gently removing the thorns still embedded in my flesh. The voice of the old expectation is silenced as the thrones are removed.”
“Papa, somehow I had always though that it would be arrogant for me to expect all of that. I always though I should be able to have that.”
He looks at my hands again and removes yet another thorn. “No, there is no arrogance in believing that I will be true to My word. It is about Me, not you. I am faithful to My word because of who I am, not because of you. It is time for you to begin to expect harvest, abundant harvest from the seeds you have sown. You have sown much, but only reaped little. It is time to see the true harvest of those seeds.
“It is time to grow up in your faith now, to move from the beggars’s faith of the immature son (teknon) to the expectation based faith of the placed, mature (huios) son. How can the placed son do the work of the Father if he cannot believe in what the Father has said He would do and provide?”
“Papa, forgive me, for that has been the nature of my faith. I have begged you and put my faith in the begging, not in the nature of my Papa! I am so sorry! Forgive me Papa!”
He puts His arm around me to comfort me. “You are forgiven, child, now do not allow condemnation to take hold. Instead, grow, take this truth deep in your heart and walk in it.”
“Yes, Papa, yes, I will, I will do it.”
I stare at the chain lined with the heavy coins, overwhelmed by the magnitude of His abundance. Then times what would have been needed over and above what I could even think or ask! The reality of what He has told me begins to set it. Faith based on true expectation truly expecting to do what He promised. Not acting as though His fulfillment of His promises depends on my ability to pray hard enough, long enough with the right words and in the right way. I just need to expect Him to be who He said He is!
“Thank you, Papa! Thank you.” Words are not sufficient to express the wonder of what He has given me.
We linger a little longer by the moat, resting and enjoying the refreshing of the cool water teeming with life.
Finally though, He says, “Come, let us return to continue the process.”