Throughout this week, I have been thinking quite a bit about expectations. We all have expectations. When we flip a light switch, we expect the light to come on. When turn the key in the ignition, we expect the car to start. When we go to church, we expect to sing, be taught, and to have a time of dedicated worship. These things are all natural and practically speaking, if we never had any expectations, our lives would be quite difficult and tiring. However, it is very easy for expectations to be misplaced and misguided. I quite often look forward to things and build them up in my mind until I have an expectation of what is to come. If the future doesn’t live up to these (quite often unreasonable) expectations, I am robbed of any joy of that moment. For example, let’s say I’ve had a long day on the road, working on a client’s computer network and am looking forward to coming home. In my mind, I picture everyone greeting me and giving me a hug when I walk in the door and being excited to see me. Instead, when I walk in the door, Marilyn is doing homework, Marcia is making dinner, Melanie is coloring, and Sam is upstairs. I should be happy to be home, be excited to talk to each person about their day, be pleased to see Marcia working hard for the family, Marilyn being diligent, and Melanie and Sam enjoying their activities. It should be an awesome place to come home to. But it’s not. My homecoming doesn’t meet my idealized expectations, so I find no joy. Joy has been replaced by a resentful spirit.
A joyful heart is good medicine,but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. – Proverbs 17:22
While we can often place unreasonable expectations on others, the other side of that same coin is having expectations of God that are too small. Our God is a great and wonderful God, capable of doing things more wonderful than we can even imagine.
There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours. All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God. – Psalm 86:8-10
I don’t know about you, but I tend to put God in a box and think, “This box contains the things that God can do. Everything else is too big and just can’t happen.” I don’t expect God to do great things. This attitude holds me back and prevents me from doing some of the things I could be doing and should be doing because I know that I can’t do them. William Carey said, “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.” We know that God has great things in store for us. Do we act as though we believe it?
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11