Expect good surprises

tent

“Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them
stretch out the curtains of your habitations;
do not spare; lengthen your cords,
and strengthen your stakes.”
(Isaiah 54:2)

The prophet was telling the people that their tents were far too small. They needed to enlarge them, and quickly. God was coming, so they needed to let their tents be stretched as far as they could be. They needed to lengthen their ropes, deepen their pegs, for they were going to need one mighty big tent to accommodate the gifts of God.

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The same is true for us. We’ve constructed personal and theological dwellings for ourselves that are far too small. Then God comes to us, and there’s no room for him, for we’ve poured foundational habits, framed rigid attitudes, and rooted our lives with limited goals that are inadequate to contain him.

bedouin-tents-comfortably

When God comes to us,
he gives us life — abundantly.

This continues to be one of the great Christian surprises. All the stories in the ancient world about the gods were very different. When the gods came down among humans, which they did with some frequency, they robbed them. Life diminished in contact with the gods. People never knew whether some stranger might be a god in human disguise, ready to cheat them out of something that was important to them.

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Can you see how fresh and liberating the prophets words were to a people conditioned to expect the worst from divinity? Every one of Israel’s contemporaries, hearing that God was coming would have put a padlock on the door. Israel did the opposite. And so should we.

We should expect the best from God, not the worst —
to be blessed, not cursed, to be surprised
by his generosity, not by his chicanery.

–Eugene Peterson

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