Visitors and projects and several birthday celebrations have kept me from writing much in the past few weeks, but today the house is quiet (except for the snoring cats and the dishwasher) and I can once again take a few moments to sit quietly and mull over the lessons being offered, along with homework, on the journey of life.
This past week has been a seminar in EXPECTATIONS. We had some family members visiting us for a week and we had made plans to complete some outdoor projects, take in some beautiful sights and do a bit of walking around our neck of the woods. That was before the rain started. For four days in a row we experienced everything the wettest, windiest and coldest May on record could deliver and there was no way we could do anything outdoors, so we modified our plans and decided to shop for a few things for our home. We spent the better part of Saturday and Sunday driving from store to store checking out coffee tables and when we finally decided on the right one, the store was out of stock (what??? it can't be!!!) and we returned home empty-handed. After days of seemingly nothing being accomplished, I finally sighed, “I think we have to lower our expectations. Tomorrow, we will simply get out of bed and that will be enough, we will be satisfied that we have done what we set out to do.” I was kind of kidding, but in a way, also realizing that my expectations were once again clashing with reality and it was decidedly uncomfortable.
So Sunday night at church, I was thinking about these things and wondering about expectations and if they serve any purpose at all. Wouldn’t life be easier without expectations? I could simply accept everything that came my way and never be disappointed. But what about having vision and setting goals and working towards them and accomplishing great things and seeing projects completed? A person determined to live without expectations would be unmotivated and passive and probably negative and generally frustrating to hang around. One of the things I really like about myself is that I am a person with a lot of hope; I easily believe that anything is possible and doable and can happen and no situation is hopeless or unredeemable. And in truth, expectations are part of the equation of hope and faith, so, yes, they have their proper place, but what exactly is that? What are good expectations? What are bad expectations? And where do I need to adjust mine to better reflect my faith and hope in all things good?
I asked God these questions and this is what I believe he said to me, “I AM faithful. Put your expectations in me, not in events, or what will happen, but in my consistent character and you will never be disappointed.”
So it appears that my expectations have in fact never been too high, but too low! I have settled for counting on certain events to happen or for circumstances to work out a certain way, or for small things to be resolved, or something to grow and take shape in a certain form, or for people to act and react in a certain way, when in fact, I should be hoping for my life to be extraordinary, looking for God to be present and at work 24/7, planning on encountering love and joy and grace and peace, expecting sacrifice and suffering that shimmer with glory, and never doubting for a moment that everything is beautifully and creatively being woven into a tapestry of holy worship for a holy God.
Those are my GREAT EXPECTATIONS today.