Thursday, July 18, 2013

What Shapes Your Expectations?

Have you ever been disappointed? What a silly question. We have all been disappointed in people, situations and desires. Disappointment comes from expectations. We expect things to be a certain way or people to have a particular reaction and when it doesn't happen we are disappointed. Sometimes we allow these experiences to diminish our expectations. We start expecting less of people and of life. Subconsciously, or consciously, we figure the less the expectation the less our disappointment. It is tragic when we allow this in our relationship with Jesus.

As Christians we have faced many disappointments and often they were due to wrong expectations. We then allowed our experience to dictate what we expect from God and we lower those expectations. But we are never suppose to live according to experience or even desires. We are to live according to the promises of Jesus, the promises of our Father. His promises are not like any others. They were true yesterday, are true today and will be true tomorrow. These promises, many of which people do not know, were given in the context of a deep, loving relationship.

For many of us, we treat God's promises like a formula or a "genie in a bottle". We keep our relationship on the surface, read a bit of the Bible, worship a bit, put a few coins in the offering and expect to get whatever we want whenever we want it. But the promises were given to those God referred to as his children. Children have expectations of their parents that they don't even think about but exist within every day.

Children expect that there will be food at meal times. They expect a hug and a band-aide when they get hurt. They expect a bed to sleep in and walls to protect them from the storms. They expect to find clean clothes in their drawers. They expect a bedtime story and a warm embrace whenever they want it. They also expect correction whenever they do wrong, even though they hope not to get caught. Children don't think about these expectations because they happen in the context of a deep and growing relationship with their parents. This is the level of intimacy God desires with us and even more so. Jesus spoke of our connection:

Stay joined to me, and I will stay joined to you. Just as a branch cannot produce fruit unless it stays joined to the vine, you cannot produce fruit unless you stay joined to me. I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you stay joined to me, and I stay joined to you, then you will produce lots of fruit. But you cannot do anything without me. If you don’t stay joined to me, you will be thrown away. You will be like dry branches that are gathered up and burned in a fire. (John 14:4-6, CEV)

He spoke of the depth of our relationship:

I am not praying just for these followers. I am also praying for everyone else who will have faith because of what my followers will say about me. I want all of them to be one with each other, just as I am one with you and you are one with me. I also want them to be one with us. (John 17:20-21, CEV)

We are crazy stupid not to realize the level of relationship Jesus desires for us to have with God. It is in the deep relationship that we can begin to live within the promises at the same level as a child with his parents. A child does not say, "I don't expect there to be cereal for breakfast" in the hope of not being disappointed. The child goes to the cupboard with unspoken expectation of finding cereal there. I face my journey today with the expectation that my God will provide everything that I need. I expect it because he promised and my relationship is such that i trust what he tells me.

It is also in this depth of relationship that I understand the promises, God's purpose for me and the direction he is taking me. I walk in the joy and peace that he has given me and if I fail to do so it is a warning to me that I am letting go of the intimacy. If I fail to walk in the promises and face disappointed, it is not my Father's fault. It isn't because he failed in his promises but rather because I have failed in our relationship and expectation. If a child fails to look for the cereal in the cupboard it does not mean the parent failed to provide. If I choose worry and fear today, it doesn't mean my Father did not provide joy and peace.

All good gifts are from our Father and he never takes away what he has promised to give. It is we who fail with our low expectation, lack of knowledge of the promises, not receiving what has been freely given and in the depth of the relationship to which we have been called. And because we are this crazy stupid, God is not glorified in our lives and the world cannot see Jesus. Experience or promises: What shapes your expectations?

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