The forecast for today: 102 degrees. A transplant to the south, the heat is something I have to prepare myself for. The forecast helps me; I know what to expect and plan accordingly. Not every expectation works out quite so well. Plans go awry, wishes aren’t always fulfilled, and more chilling, sometimes disasters happen. Are we doomed when reality crashes our expectations?
No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. Romans 8:37
Expectations. We all have them. Right expectations inspire; wrong expectations destroy. Sometimes expectations are infected with assumptions that pervert perceptions too.
When our expectations–for others and ourselves–line up with Scripture, they work! When we use our natural mind and understanding, though, offense enters in. The parable of the vineyard owner and the servants makes a great place to dig into the issue. (Matthew 20)
You know the story. Early one morning, a farmer goes to a gathering place for workers and hires field hands at an agreed upon
wage for the day. Three more times that day the farmer returns to hire more workers. At the end of the day, he pays the last hired first–at the rate he agreed upon with the first workers. They wait with great anticipation, expecting greater reward for their extra effort.
When expectations are based on the work we do, a disparity is about to blow wide open! Instead of focusing on the amazing generosity of the farmer, the workers focused on what they “deserved.” That is dangerous ground!
We truly do not want God to give us what we deserve. Furthermore, the reality is we can do NOTHING without Jesus Christ. We come to the Father because of Him; He is our reward. The ground for receiving from the Father is the ground of neediness.
Jesus had just been teaching about the difficulties of the “rich” enjoying the Kingdom of Heaven. When we live with an attitude of how much we have to offer–in knowledge, talent or ambition–we are the rich who cannot enjoy the Kingdom. Our work is faith in the One who does it all! When we focus on that work, His work gets done!
Later in the same chapter, we see a right expectation based on need. Blind men were creating a stir, loudly calling out to Jesus for mercy. They annoyed the crowd around them, but Jesus stopped and asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” Their need is ours and their request ought to be ours as well: “Give us sight.”
We see a lot of things wrong in our world, things that ought (and ought not) to be. The lacks and sins in the world around us disrupt our peace. We wonder what we ought to do and expect God sent us to fix those things. The Kingdom solution is much simpler. Ask the Spirit to show us what needs to change in us so He can flow through us unobstructed and do the work Himself.
When have expectations got in your way…or God’s way?