Expectations are a double-edged sword. Seriously. Sometimes they can be helpful…but sometimes they can totally mess things up and steer us off course. For example, say that you and a friend are meeting someone for lunch; someone you don’t know, but your friend knows this person. The two of them have been assigned to accomplish some work or committee-related task and you are along for the ride. Here is the issue: your friend (we’ll call him Shale – because I can pick any name and I think if I had my kids to name over again I would name them all after kinds of rocks because there are some really cool rock names out there…), Shale, does NOT like this person (who we’ll call Slate…because [see above] .) Shale is telling you all of Slate’s annoying qualities and repulsive characteristics. By the time you arrive at your lunch venue, you are expecting some hairy-toed sloth-man with yellow teeth and a high-pitched cackle laugh carrying four padlocked briefcases.
The thing is…the guy looks totally normal.
You try to not think he’s funny…out of loyalty to your friend, Shale. But he is. Slate is hilarious. He does talk about his cat from time to time which is a little quirky, but not a big deal. He’s actually kind of cool.
Expectations can pollute reality.
They can color what you think something should be like and cause you to see through a filter without realizing you are doing so.
We do that with God. We see and hear things from other people and start to expect certain things…like that we are supposed to pray a certain way and we end up praying and saying things we don’t even understand…so how can we mean them? ( “I’m praying a hedge of protection around you…” ibid Tim Hawkins.) Then we wonder why it’s dry. Why it’s not working. Why it doesn’t feel real.
The king of Aram was after Israel. But somebody kept warning the king of Israel about the location of the Arameans. In doing so, the Israeli armies were careful and protected. The king of Aram thought they had a mole. He thought he was housing some double agent spy guy and set out to find who it was. His guys told him that there was no mole. That Elisha, a prophet of God, was warning the king of Israel. So the king of Aram sent his army to kill Elisha. Elisha’s servant woke up that morning. He had expectations for how the day was going to go, clear down to what he expected to see when he opened his eyes. He expected to see “real” things…”real” people. Read this from 2 Kings 6:
15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.
16“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
At this point I can see Elisha’s servant having a brain cramp. He’s sees what he sees and clearly they are surrounded and outnumbered. He was NOT expecting to see the “unreal”. Consequently, he wasn’t looking for it.
17And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
Here’s a real brain-cramper for you: as is often the case in God’s kingdom, what seems “real” to us is actually less real that what seems “unreal” to us. The heavenly armies didn’t have physical bodies…didn’t seem “real” to the naked eye…but were far more powerful and eternal.
Eternal = real.
We’ve been operating under the definition that physical= real.
What if physical= temporary and eternal = real?
What if our expectations are totally off? Or even a degree off?
I don’t care where you are in your spiritual journey. I don’t care if you are a 60-yr-old man or a 16-yr-old girl…there is a lot of God to get to know. We are NEVER going to be done being SURPRISED by Him. If we are, we’ve stopped reaching for knowing the REAL Him. We have settled.
Where are you placing expectations on Him (or about Him) and boxing Him in rather than getting to know who He really is? What do YOU think He should sound like? Communicate like? Look like? Be like? How do you think He really feels right now? About you? And this?
Based on what? What someone has told you? Something you have seen? An assumption? Prediction? Projection (because my pastor, my dad, my mom, some really hyper-spiritual person I know reacts this way then God must react that way)? Something you thought you read somewhere?
Don’t get me wrong. Not all expectations are bad. Listen to me:
NOT ALL EXPECTATIONS ARE BAD….BUT NOT ALL EXPECTATIONS ARE RIGHT!
1Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
1 John 4:1
Test your expectations. You may feel deep down that God is unfair. If you do, that’s honest. We like honest. We can work with honest. But have you ever considered that we might be being unfair to Him? Thinking He is Someone He isn’t?
Pray or journal through that one today. Ask Him to open your mind to seeing and hearing and knowing Him more TRUE-ly.