What Do You Expect?

Matt Litton’s reflection on Advent pointed out that Jesus failed to meet a lot of people’s expectations. The Jews were looking for a leader who would unite the people and lead them to a military victory over their Roman oppressors. This God-appointed King was supposed to re-establish the throne of David and put God’s chosen people on top of the whole world. The nations were to be subjugated, the Temple cleansed and fit for the return of God’s glorious presence, and the Torah was to go out into every corner of the Earth. Universal peace was to become a reality by this leader’s hand. And Jesus offered none of that; at least as far as they could tell. Matt finished off his reflection by exhorting his readers to let Jesus “invade our expectations of what it means to live a life of faith”. After reading Matt’s post, I asked myself “What are my expectations of God/Jesus?”

To be honest, I don’t have many. It’s not an easy thing to admit, but I think it’s true. I pray to God asking for various blessings (not necessarily for myself) or changes in circumstances (not always my own), but frequently I don’t expect to receive what I’ve asked for. To mask my faithlessness, I wrap it up in some pious language about God’s will being done and the inscrutability of his will, but the truth I’m just trying to insulate myself against disappointment and the temptation to accuse God when the blessings don’t come and the circumstances don’t change.

This is not to say that I have no expectations of God. I cling to the belief that if I “seek first his kingdom” then all the other necessities of life will be provided by him as well. And I do expect him to do something when I pray. I just don’t usually expect him to do what I ask. Again, I don’t want to ask for someone to be healed only to be disappointed when they die. I don’t want to ask for certain realities to change only to be disappointed by more of the same as days turn to weeks, months and years. In other words, I often set the bar very low for God. It’s like I’ve invited the King of Creation into the story while offering Him my arm to lean on as He toddles across the threshold like a fragile old man. Absurd isn’t it?

Paul says that God is able to do more than “all we ask or imagine”. If you’re like me, you may need to ask God to reawaken your imagination and give you a set of expectations which He can exceed. Then, when we ask Him into our story, perhaps we should stand back…just in case He decides to burst onto the scene.

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