Are you open to something truly surprising or have past experiences conditioned you to expect nothing more than what you are already familiar with?
Obviously we are meant to learn from our experiences, but the wisdom we gain from them should not close us to the possibilities of the future. It would be a tragedy if past disappointments become the boundaries of future expectations. And this is important, for expectation is not simply our best effort to foresee the future, but to a large extent it determines our future experience.
Our expectations are formed under the influence of many factors – some conscious, some unconscious:
- past experiences,
- the reality of our present circumstances,
- our beliefs.
Taking all these factors into account, it might seem that the future is largely determined. The logic of cause and effect narrows the options before us.
Yet a very significant factor is often left out of our calculations:
- the possibility that our experiences have no knowledge of,
- the possibility that our beliefs do not yet acknowledge,
- the possibility that is by its very definition larger than the present reality.
This possibility is what I call God. It is a possibility beyond our logic of cause and effect. Jesus spoke about this God when he said “for God all things are possible”, Matthew 19:26. Or another way of translating it is: “God is the possibility of all things.” This is the God of novelty; the God who beckons us moment by moment to transcend the boundaries of what is and what has been. Something truly new and truly beautiful is possible for you. If you experience the excitement of what this sentence means – a meaning beyond the words – then you are experiencing God.
So what can we practically do to make room for divine possibilities?
Create space for the unplanned.
Very often plans are made in order to reduce unpleasant surprises. These plans are often motivated by a desire to be in control. An unintended consequence of such plans is that they also exclude the possibility for pleasant surprises. Being in absolute control can also be absolutely boring.
Yes, some plans are good and necessary, but learn the art of leaving space for the unplanned, for surprising creativity.
Whereas plans usually are aimed at reducing the risk of the unknown, spontaneity embraces the risk and excitement of seizing the moment. In a world where everything seems to have its place and time, it can be a surprising joy to do something… unexpected. It might start with something small, but continue to look for those opportunities.
In Greek mythology the god Kairos was pictured as a fast running athlete with a lock of hair on his forehead. It was said that he moved so fast that you could only grasp him as he ran towards you … the moment he passed it was too late. And so Kairos was used to symbolize opportunity. You can read a bit more about that here.
Form a habit of Meditation
There are different practices of meditation and some might be more comfortable referring to it as listening to the voice of God.
I want to highlight the benefit of daily meditation. Again, it might be much easier for some to set aside some time for prayer and fasting once a year to ‘get the plan’ from the Lord and then stick to it. But I have experienced his voice in a much more dynamic way and hope you could benefit from such an experience as well. Sure there are times when God may speak to us about long term future directions, but by far the voice of God is much more relational and in the moment.
I remember when Mary-Anne and I started traveling and ministering all over, I sensed the Lord say: “Do not plan for more than three months.” This was against everything in my nature. I wanted to be certain about where we would be, what we would do and whether we could afford it. However, learning to be in conversation continually opened up opportunities that I could never have planned for. Possibilities and relationships that were not even imaginable for me at the beginning of the three months would present themselves and I was so glad that I did not exclude them because my schedule was already full.
Plan to do and experience something new.
It is easy to fall into the habit of only doing what you are familiar with and convincing yourself that you are simply not good with certain activities. But just as our physical muscles do not develop if we do not use them, so too, neurological development ceases if we do not exercise our brains. In his book ‘The brain that changes itself’, Norman Doidge shows that learning something new, something challenging, activates neurological activity: “When we learn something new neurons fire together and wire together.”
The research suggests that learning something new and challenging keeps the brain elastic… and makes life so much more exciting!
Whatever your story is, whatever path brought you to this moment, the most exciting part of your story is the fact that it is unfinished. The most exciting stories are full of surprises, full of twists and turns.
God is the possibility that opens up your future beyond the pattern of your past, beyond the logic of cause and effect. Allow this God to stir your expectation. Something truly new and truly beautiful is possible for you.