What do you expect from God? Don’t gloss over this question. Don’t answer right away. Stop. Think. Think again. Then, say it out loud. Don’t answer with a pat answer. When you said it, did it sound natural? Did it sound sincere? Did it feel real to say it?
We all have expectations of every single person or in our lives. We have expectations of our lives. We expect our spouses to be faithful, supportive and helpful. We expect our kids to obey, eat their vegetables, clean their rooms and play the sport we did. We expect our friends to listen and agree with us. We expect our parents to be perfect and mighty. We expect our dreams to come true. We expect so much during our lives. We are expectation machines.
I was having a conversation today with my mom on my way to church. We were reflecting on yesterday. Yesterday was hard for me, I was feeling the weight of all the shit that had happened to me lately. I spent a lot of time yesterday in a bad place mentally. And some of that was because of my expectations of my life and of God. I expected my life to be very different at this point. This is a long-standing expectation, from way back in high school when I had to write one of those “where will you be in 10 years” type letters. At an early age people ask us what we expect to be when we grow up. The expectation that is put on us from that point is that we are going to become something. We have to accomplish something great. That’s a heavy burden on a kid. And I think it’s even heavier because it starts to define us. Our expectation for our lives and expectation of those people around us, those define us and how we think about the world and our place in it . Yesterday I felt that weight, both the expectations put on me and the expectations I put on me and others.
Back to my conversation with my mom...She was talking about how God is faithful and He will come through for me. Something clicked in my brain when she said “He will come through for me.” It dawned on me that I had an expectation for Jesus to step in and do something. Why? Why do I expect Jesus to bring me a job? Why am I expecting Him to do something right now in my life? Am I not grateful for what He has already done? Am I just consistently putting burdens on Him and not really experiencing what I have? A lot of things started running through my brain.
Now, please do not get me wrong. Jesus did promise that He would provide for all of our needs. I am not suggesting that Jesus is not going to bring me a job. My concern is that I’m putting a weight on our relationship that shouldn’t be there. I don’t need to be standing here waiting for Jesus to bring me a job. What happens if I don’t get one or it doesn’t work out the way I expected? Will I see Jesus as if He failed? Is our relationship about my expectations? Where is my focus in our relationship?
Back to my point earlier about people and expectations. I have a son. I had expectations of my son. I still have expectations of my son. I expected him to go to school, I expected him to follow the rules, I expected him to respect me. I expected too much. Our relationship is on very rocky ground. One of the things he said to me more than once was that I expected too much of him. I thought I was being reasonable, he didn’t. I put a weight on him to conform to me, to my standards. I don’t know if that was right or wrong, but I know it was one of the driving factors in our broken relationship. Expectations carry a great deal of weight. When he couldn’t fulfill my expectations he pushed me away and I got angry and our relationship broke apart. Instead of just living in the relationship and loving him, he and I could not fulfill each other’s expectations and so our relationship became all about our disappointment over those expectations.
I was reminded tonight of my expectations of God many years ago. My sister was sick, cancer. Ten months I put everything into a belief that God would heal her. But, it was my expectation, not my conversation. I put weight on our relationship instead of actually having a relationship. God needed to put up, that was it. Conform to my expectations, heal my sister, that was our relationship at the time. I didn’t take any other consideration as a possibility. When she died I was shattered and my relationship with God...shattered. I was so focused on what I wanted God to do, I completely missed what God had done, what God was doing.
More than 20 years later I find myself again in a painful situation where the things of this world are not doing what I want. My expectations are not being met. Yesterday, I faced that and that weight took me into a deep and dark place. Today, I realized I was doing it all wrong. It’s not about what I expect from God or myself or the world, it’s about what I have. It’s about what’s already happened. It’s about being present now. Truly, it’s about being.
Two thousand years ago, the Jewish people expected Jesus to rise up and tear down the government and become King. They didn’t like the oppression from the Roman empire and expected Jesus to do something about it. But that is not why He came. He did not come to fulfill their expectations. No, He was looking towards something much more eternal. He came to establish a personal relationship with us. And to do that, He had to die a painful and horrible death on the cross. Their expectations were shattered when He fulfilled His.
I’m not gonna lie, I still have expectations of people and things in my life and God. But, I have a new perspective about how to approach those things and not allow them to define my relationships and my life. My expectations are just guidelines or hopes, but they aren’t the relationships and they aren’t the experience. I want to remove the weight of expectation and live free. To truly live my life, I need to be present, I need to be in the moment. I want to think eternally, and I want to think moment to moment. I want to be fully here while embracing the eternity that God has for me. Whether the job comes or not, I will be where God wants me to be because I will be present with Him.
So, I ask again, what do you expect from God?
And as Christ himself is seen for who he really is…
We humans have a love-hate relationship with the truth; and it changes depending on what truth we’re having to face. Last week my nephew decided to move to Twin Falls. He had gotten it in his head that if he did not leave immediately he would never leave the Treasure Valley. He believed he was stuck. That became in his mind a truth. So, he went to visit some friends in Twin Falls and had a plan to get a job there. A few days later he texted me and tells me he is going to San Francisco by mostly hitchhiking. With the last of his money he made it as far as Salt Lake City. And then he got stuck. He spent several days unable to get out of the city, hungry, alone, cold and in a lot of ways lost. It wasn’t long after that he told me he was coming back. He has a whole new plan now, it’s actually his old plan that he was talking about a year ago that he never did anything about. His perceived truth chased him away from the real truth of his life and dreams here in Idaho.
In my opinion, this entire thing had to do with a health scare. Just a few short weeks after a bad spell he was in Twin Falls. This trip was about running away from the truth about himself, avoiding his doctors, avoiding people around him that we’re going to ask him questions about his health and in general avoiding the truth that was weighing on him. In his case, he ran. I myself have locked myself away, ignored the truth, yelled at the truth and even beat it up a few times. The crazy thing is, it’s not always bad truth I am fighting against. Sometimes even the best truth can scare the crap out of me. It’s mental. I’m mental! But the reality is: we all are. There’s something very raw and vulnerable about the truth. And it doesn’t always have to be our truth either, just hearing truth can wreck us to our core. You would think that we would all want to run after something as important as the truth. Yet, we are terrified of it. When it comes to our relationship with God, when He reveals Himself to us, we are forced to face Truth. And not just any truth, but the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Capital “T” Truth! There is a reason why the world fears and in some respects despises Jesus, in part because of His truth and what it means about us. He is perfection that we can never be and yet we live that struggle every single day. We are told by society what perfect is and that we need to conform to those standards. But it’s all superficial, because we can never ever be perfect. But we can be loved by perfection. We can be saved by perfection. We can be raised up from our muck by perfection. The truth about love, the truth about hope, the truth about peace, the truth about who we really are undermines everything the world is trying to make us believe. Jesus reveals Himself in every moment of every day of your life, and He is just waiting for you to respond. Open your heart, open your mind and let Truth be revealed.