“What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of what it’s supposed to be.” –Socrates
We live our life filled with expectation of all kinds. Young and old, healthy or unhealthy, rich or poor-we all have expectations. We may be anticipating something good or something bad, and even if we anticipate no change and have no hope for a situation, we are expecting something-we are expecting nothing.
Often we have a preconceived idea about how our expectations will play out, what will happen, how we will respond, or what the result will look like.
In my life, I know that often my expectations are different from how things end up actually being. When I got married, I had little expectation that marriage was often a series of difficult conversations before a decision would be made. And then the decision isn’t necessarily always what I would prefer for it to be! Somehow I thought that things would just work themselves out. LOL
When I became a mom, I had no idea how selfish I really was and how God would use motherhood to show me how much He loved me and was taking care of me. These are only a couple examples out of many that I know that my expectations were different from what reality was.
When I think about Mary and Joseph and the whole Jewish nation’s expectation for the Messiah, I shake my head. Is it any wonder that so many people missed Jesus’ birth? They knew He was to be born in Bethlehem, but do you think anyone had the expectation that it would be in close proximity to animals and that shepherds, the lowest class of people in that culture, would be the ones coming to welcome Him into the world? Do you think that Mary and Joseph expected to be on the run for their lives after Jesus was born? The Jews expected the Messiah to free them from the Romans, not from their sin. They expected Him to set up a kingdom on earth, not a heavenly one.
All the prophecies around His birth and life and death were fulfilled, but it looked nothing like the Jews expected. The result-they were the ones who put Him to His 3-day death. Everything worked out the way God intended, but many of the people who spent their life expecting the Messiah missed Him or were offended by Him rather than believing in Him. People who did believe in Him found that though things were very different from what they expected them to be, the plan was grander than they had anticipated.
The question begs to be asked-
What expectations have I had that have caused me to completely overlook a great thing that God is doing around me? When have I been blinded by my expectations? What might God be doing right now that is lost to me because of my mind being closed to the possibility that He is doing something different from what I expected Him to be doing?
A few weekends ago I listened to teaching on the history of revivals. It hasn’t been uncommon for people who were involved and changed in one revival to reject another move of God that looks different from their experience. When we look at the New Testament, it’s apparent that Jesus and the apostles got the same result using various techniques in different situations. Why then do we tend to believe that a move of God will look the same as before? Why do we think it won’t push us out of our comfort zones or be different from our expectations? Jesus constantly nudged comfort zones in His ministry and blew everyone’s expectations!
Obviously, we need discernment to know whether something is of the Lord or not, because not everything that is marketed as from Him bears the fruit that Jesus said we’d bear when we live life with Him and His way.
Here’s my caution-let’s not write anything off too quickly, or we could be just like the Jews of Jesus’ day, knowing every word and prophecy of the Torah but not recognizing the Messiah when He came.
We all have them, and that’s ok. Let’s just not miss what God is doing in our lives and around us because of reality looking different from what we expected it to.