What Did You Expect?

10:54 AMHeather

expectation (noun) -- the act or state of looking forward or anticipating; a thing looked forward to; a prospect of good or profit; the degree of probability that something will occur


Expectations.  They are the mile markers that either leave us completely disappointed or incredibly elated.  They are the emotional benchmarks upon which we gauge our life, either in a good way or a bad way.  They are the fences within which we find joy or frustration.  They are the predecessors of our emotional response.

We all have expectations.  Whether we realize them or not.  And inevitably, I've found that expectations are the very root of many problems.  Unspoken expectations that are unmet lead to emotional turmoil.  Yet, I can hardly hold the other accountable when I have not clearly expressed my expectations.  Unrealized expectations lead to surprise and often dismay.  And, there is nothing quite as euphoric as exceeded expectations.  

While we often are tossed about on the waves of our emotions, expectations are another animal altogether.  They are something we can approach logically and that we have the power to redefine.  Readjusting them is a tangible way to gain control in an emotionally charged situation.  

So, herein lies the problem as I see it.  It's a two fold issue.  

First of all, we expect too much of people and the world around us.  We expect people to complete us, to affirm us, to be our definition of self-worth and value.  We expect our bank accounts to make us happy.  We expect our jobs to fulfill us.  We expect the tangible world around us to cater to our needs and our rights and our demands.   Bottom line, we tend to place all of our expectations on the people and circumstances around us.  

Which leads to epic failure and disappointment.  This is where relationships are broken, hearts are wounded, bitterness and anger seep in, and entitlement grows like a plague.  This leads to a sense of being wronged and disappointed, and someone or something is to blame. 

It's certainly not a matter of taking responsibility of our misplaced expectations, is it?  

The way I see it is that the first issue with expectations is too much is made of that which cannot meet the heavy burden placed upon it.

The second issue, going hand in hand with the first?  

Too little is expected of the only One who can exceed our expectations.  Who can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).  Whose track record pretty well blows the mind of anyone who really studies it.  Who shows up when least expected in ways that his followers can not wrap their brains around.  Whose power is unmatched.  Whose love and grace knows no bounds.  Who is a force that no power on earth can rifle.  

Yet, we sit back in our holy huddles and box God in and belittle who He is to ourselves and the world around us.  Continually misplacing our expectations.  Denying ourselves the real joy and peace that God wishes to pour out upon us.  If we would only make Him our expectation.  The person we wait for, look forward to, anticipate.  

We are like the beggar at the Gate Beautiful in Acts 3:1-10.  We sit in our ugly, begging for more.  We are lame and broken and wounded.  In desperate need of help.  We beg for little things, like this lame beggar did.  We ask for the alms or bread we need for this day.  It's all we consider--the immediate need.  We are the cringing beggar asking for crumbs.

There we sit.  Paralyzed by our needs.  Begging for some little morsel that God might decide to throw our way.  

Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
Acts 3:2-5 

Do we give God our attention in a limited, half-hearted sort of way?  Expecting to get something from Him?  Not seeing Him as any different from all the others who have walked past us.  Maybe I will hear a worship song that makes me feel good inside.  Or I can find a verse that sorta gives me a glimpse of fleeting hope, but whose power I deny.  Maybe, He'll give an answered prayer if I beg enough and flip cartwheels and assert myself and convince God to see it my way?  Coming at him with a sense of exchanging my wish list for His benevolence, if pestered enough.

Or do we give God our attention expecting EVERYTHING from Him?

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
Acts 3:6-10 
 
The beggar was asking for money to meet his needs for that day.  We know that every day, he was placed at that gate called Beautiful seeking enough to survive for that day. He depended on others to place him there.  He depended on the temple goers to help him survive another day. 

But God sees our greater need.  His heart is to give beyond the temporal provision. He longs to evoke eternal change.  He meets needs and exceeds them.  He sees our need.  And He moves.  He makes the ugly things beautiful.  He reaches in, right where we are, begging at the gate.  And He wants to change us so that we can walk and jump and praise God, having recognized fully the transforming power of God. He wants to move in our lives in such a way that the people around us are filled with wonder and amazement at what has happened to us.

God sees beyond the mundane need and He is moving to bring healing and completeness on the eternal level.  I am begging Him for what I need today.  He is doing greater things and greater works to mold me for eternal glory.  He longs for me to give him my full attention, expecting EVERYTHING from Him--not just something.

Oh, yes, even us who claim the name of Jesus beg for little things because it's all we consider.  It's the best we think He might offer.  But God can bring completeness, wholeness, healing, and the eternal.  What if I quit asking for crumbs and asked God to give me a banquet of grace and power and love? 

I wonder, as I ask myself this same question.

What is your big "ask" from God?  Surrendering all expectations to the God of the Universe changes the way we pray.  It moves us to live in a life of expectancy...for the only One who can exceed all expectations. It emboldens us to dream bigger, on the scale of a God with whom all things are possible.

Here's a glimpse of a life lived in this way.  As Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego entered that fiery furnace, placing their very lives at the feet of their God, they said, "If He does not [save us]...then God is still good."  THAT is praying big.  That is placing all expectations on God for everything.  To believe firmly in the goodness of a God who paid the ultimate price to make us His very own. No matter if the outcome is what I expect...or what He has planned.

What if?  What if we could quit being a cringing beggar, asking people to meet our daily needs and emotional needs and give us a sense of fulfillment? What if we instead became expectant children of God, giving Him our full attention and asking Him to give us everything?

That we might be like that healed beggar.  Who got up and walked.  Who had the faith to take the first step.  And then lived a life of walking and jumping and praising God.  A life that all those around took note of, because the change was so remarkable.  Changed forever by the touch of a God who is capable of doing so much more than we could ask.  

And more than we expect.    

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