An idea came to me, it's no new idea, I'm sure any of you could have probably told me this long ago. But, it was just a thought that had never occurred to me in this particular form before. So, now, in keeping with my true fashion, I'm going to analyze it to death hoping to gain some new insight.
I'd written something earlier in the year about expectations. I re-read it this morning and combined with a gift I recently received it made me stop and think.
I received a quilt last week. The quilt was sent with a note to let me know that I was being thought of and prayed for, and they hoped the quilt would be a reminder of that for me. I didn't expect them to do that. It didn't even occur to me that someone would do that. But if I had thought someone would want to give me that kind of reminder, my mind would never have imagined a quilt. Just for the simple reason that I wouldn't have thought of it.
I could expect them to lead a 2 hr prayer meeting two nights a week. I could expect them to visit every shut in at least twice a week. I could expect them to save ketchup packets to squirt into our bottle of ketchup at church, so we could be better stewards of our money. My expectations would be foolish, and leave me disappointed.
But instead of doing all those things that might be expected, they do other things I don't expect. They install hot water heaters for women in the church, they practically jump the minute you seem to even remotely imply that you need help, and they seem to long for your family to get right with God as much as you do.
But more than anything, when I met them, I expected them to tell me information about God. Again, ignoring expectations, they instead showed me how to live a Godly life. I've spent 24 years getting information about God. And now 1 year of learning with living examples that has taught me more in this 1 year, that I learned in those other 24.
I didn't expect that.
But, that's only my example. They aren't what this post is about. It was just the springboard that brought me to what I'm thinking about now.
I expect a lot of things of God. When I pray, I don't expect him to "answer", I expect Him to say yes. I expect Him to heal the sick I pray for, provide justice when I demand it, shower money on the people I think need it, give jobs to those that I've decided should get better jobs, and if someone that's suppose to be a Christian is doing something wrong, I expect Him to make it stop.
My expectations are foolish, and often leave me disappointed.
Instead, while I pray for Health, justice, money, jobs, and for the world to be a perfect place, He gives me peace, patience, love, warmth, compassion, mercy, hope, faith. He gives me something to reach for, something to strive for. He's given me dreams.
He's freed me from bitterness and anger, from fear and hating life. He's given me a brand new life.
I didn't expect that.
My expectations would always leave me still wanting more. And they always leave out the things that I truly desire. If my friends that gave me the quilt did everything that everyone expects a Pastor and his wife to do, we'd all miss out on the very best part of knowing them. In that same way, if God did all the things we expect Him to do, our physical lives would change. For 80-100 years probably. But our spiritual lives, left unattended by our expectations, would wither away and die. It's just not worth it.
But to carry on I need to start applying this idea to others. Not just in terms of God. I need to remember that my expectations of people aren't necessarily God's. And while I can still expect good things from everyone, it's God who decides what those things will be, not me. If my expectations ruled the world, well... I'd have a lot of ketchup packets and no quilt to comfort me.