My friend Ann Smith is well into her tenth decade of life. She is smart, wise, witty, and perceptive. She is a global thinker and international traveler. She spends a disproportionate amount of her time with college students, young married couples, and mid-life persons in ministry. And she has been a close friend and mentor to Bill and me for over fifty years.
At the beginning of each decade, Ann asks God to show her what He wants to grow in her. She asks God to give her a clear insight into her deficiencies and a vision of what He is calling her to become in this decade of her life. Though Ann considers these revelations to be personal, many have turned out to be life-changers for us as well. Here are a few:
There is a big difference between expectations and expectancy. Work on getting up every morning with expectancy and not expectations—of yourself, events, and other people. With expectations you will always be disappointed. With expectancy you will see each day as a great adventure and every good thing as a bonus.
When meeting any human being, ask God to reveal what He had in mind when He made them, then to give the grace to treat them as if that had already been accomplished.
Ann and her husband Nathan were long-term missionaries to Japan. On her last three-week trip to Japan to say farewell to the country and people she loves so deeply, she sat alone on a hillside, looking at the mountain in front of her and the flowing river below. God seemed to be saying: “Ann, I am calling you to be as solid and unshakable as a mountain and as flowing and adaptable as a river. There have been times in your life when you have been as solid and firm as a mountain, but not as flowing and adaptable as a river. And at times you have been as flowing and adaptable as a river, but not as grounded and solid as a mountain. My child, I want you to be both. Find the balance.”
How wise are all of these insights! In these precarious times, God is calling us all to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” He wants the trademark of our days to be joyful with childlike expectancy, and like Moses when he and the Israelites were facing the formidable Red Sea, be able to say, “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.”
When we get edgy with others who don’t see things exactly as we do, even people who are contentious and difficult or downright wicked, could we pray silently that God would give us the vision of what He had in mind for them when He made them and give us whatever internal resources we need to be instruments of change for an eternal outcome?
And dare we strive to be grounded in the things that are deep and unchangeable truths, yet be gentle, flowing, refreshing, and adaptable to the situations and personalities He brings into our lives? May we “dwell together in love” and dare to trust that we dispel the darkness, not with a sword, but with the light?