There is a saying in 12 step programs that goes like this - "It is ok to make plans, just don't plan the outcome." How many times have we reached the end of the day and felt disappointed? The gift wasn't right. The meal was dry. The weather was wet. The ex-spouse was late bringing the kids. The cake fell. In some small or major way, our expectations for the day weren't met. We just weren't ready for the particular events of the day.
Matthew 24: 42. Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43. But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. 44. Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
This passage from Matthew warns us about expectations if it does anything. You won't know when, how or where the Christ will come - but be ready anyway. But, ready for what? It is a fair question - just not the right one. The better question is how to be ready...for whatever comes.
My youngest step-daughter, Christine, had a goal as she prepared to go to school for the first day of 1st grade. She eagerly dressed, got on the bus and was off. At the end of the day, the bus dropped her off at her drive way and as her mother stood there to greet her she placed her hands on her hips, planted one foot soundly and proclaimed with a huff, "I didn't learn to read!" Expectations.
Have you ever exercised with a goal, to perhaps run a race, or lose weight (not that anyone here needs to lose weight. In fact, I can't believe I even brought that up), or maybe to recover from an injury.
A few years ago, I went through a round of physical therapy - exercises actually- for a back injury. The Physical therapist and the techs would teach me an exercise and instruct me to do it each day. Then each week I would come back for evaluation, some treatments and the next level of exercise - if I was ready for it. We had a plan - to get me healthy. We had a menu - specific exercises done on a regular basis. But, week to week I was surprised by the changes in my body - sometimes more than expected, sometimes less. My body did or didn't do what I expected it to. I'm still amazed I can't touch my heel to my nose.
Then one day I realized, the back pain was gone. I'm not exactly sure when it happened, but it did. The pain left and ease of motion was there. Preparation requires of us openness to God's working. We are not the only ones with a plan. We are not the only one working. God's coming is more like getting healthy, getting fit than it is like catching a cold. It doesn't just happen to us because of proximity - we have to work to benefit from it. God is free. God is available to everyone - but what happens in our life, in our world when God comes in an unexpected way is, well... beyond our control. AND, God always comes unexpectedly. It's always an unexpected type of gift - so we need to be open minded to the unexpected ways and times God works and of course we need to - show up, do the work of the day and receive the outcome.