Heard a great message on Sunday by Pastor Greg Daulton of MRCC – and it really made me think.
We are going to be walking through the book of Luke this next year – and we started out with the very first part of Luke.
1Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled[a] among us, 2just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
Luke was attempting to demonstrate through investigation that everything he was about to write about – the foretelling of the birth of Jesus – the late pregnancy to Elizabeth and John – and finally the virgin birth – really did happen! And not in the way everyone thought it would. Quite the opposite.
I thought about that – and have to admit that we take the story we’ve heard a million times already – somewhat for granted. Not that we disbelieve it – no – it has just become common and pretty much expected. But for the people of that day – the King of the Universe – coming as a baby?? No way. They looked for him as a majestic ruler with a loud SHOUT or something. And most people missed it. Their expectations were so high – and they waited so long.
God used a woman well past her age of child bearing to have a son – that would be the spokesman for Jesus – and He also used an unwed teenage girl to be the mother of our Lord. We would not have chosen either one of these ladies. He came as a baby to intersect our time and space – to relate with us – to be with us. God does things much differently than you or I would. Most of the time. And yet we seem surprised or caught off guard – or even unaware – when He moves in our lives.
For example: Someone we know lives a sinful life – maybe substance abuse and hard living or even infidelity. We write them off mentally. Oh come on – we ALL do it!! We think – “they can never change – once an alcoholic – or drug addict – always an alcoholic or drug addict” Or “once a cheater – always a cheater” And then a miracle of God happens – He gets a hold of their life and they are changed – maybe not dramatically – but slowly over time, changes occur – and “baby steps” are happening – as they begin to make right choices and live for God. But somehow – that wasn’t miraculous enough for us – so we doubt it has ANYTHING at all to do with God – and something like “will power” has allowed them for a little while to get it together – but we don’t expect it to last. I’ve even seen well meaning Christians say that God can never use that person who has failed again. Somehow God can forgive and restore – but we can’t. Our expectations are different from the reality of the work of the Holy Spirit.
Or how about this: We fall in love. We expect that the other person is going to meet all of our needs. Impossible – but somehow – we expect it. Ruth Graham, wife of Billy Graham was quoted as saying “my husband cannot possibly be everything that I need him to be – and it’s not fair to put that expectation on him” I think if more new wives heard this – they would be better prepared for the day when they are sadly disappointed at the guy they married for not being everything emotionally that they need.
When I realized this about Greg – that he was not going to meet every expectation that only God can fill all the empty spaces in me – and that it was okay for me to have other people – friends that God has given me – to enrich my life – then all was well. But we learned this fact just recently – a hard lesson indeed – and it was a struggle for me NOT to expect – and for him NOT to be able to be everything – because he wanted to be and thought he had to be too. When we are allowed people into our lives that share common interests and humor – those that are in our world to encourage and walk with us – we are much richer for it.
Let’s face it – our expectations can lead us done a very lonely road of misunderstanding and discontentment. And this can be very dangerous in a marriage relationship.
Real love sometimes looks different than we expect. It is not a fairy tale or fictional story of the hero rushing in. It is someone who stays with you – believes the best in you – even when you sometimes don’t believe in yourself anymore. It is seeing someone growing older – and more beautiful all the time. It is having someone drive you to the doctor while you are throwing up in a bucket – in such pain – and still thinking you are the most beautiful woman in the world. It is quiet and steady. It stands the test of time. It is safe and secure. It is going through financial reversal and the different seasons of life. It is sometimes boring and not very exciting – but it is still there – like a trusted friend. – Sometimes short on romance – but you never have to worry that it will just disappear on you – or somehow change over time. It is very different from what we expect because the “feelings” are not always there – like they first were.
I would have to admit that when I thought about what love felt like – it was always very different from the reality in which I now live. Love sometimes is like that. It is far different from our great expectations. And I believe that is the number one reason why marriages don’t last. People have unrealistic expectations for their spouse – even years into the marriage. Things that cannot ever be met. This is why it feels so great when we find someone that really seems to appreciate us for all those qualities that our spouse takes for granted – and where we can get into trouble. Hanging on to the “false” love and validation from someone else – When we must learn that those emotions need to have their proper “place” in our lives. And that requires that we always know the difference between what is real and what is not. Not based on emotions – for they can fool us – but based on truth.
Now when this happens we don’t think that God can breathe new life into something where our expectations have been blown to bits! But with God anything is possible – He can take the broken and misunderstood – and make it whole again. And again – we fail to see that God does this in an opposite way in which WE would have done it. If it were up to us – all the problem people in our lives and situations would simply NOT be there to mess us up. There would be no pain and hurt – everyone would meet our needs and everyone would get along and love each other – with no hidden agenda.
But God does not work that way. He works through our pain. He softly and gently heals – makes us stronger through adversity – does not take it away from us – but lets us go through it to accomplish His purpose and plan for our lives – if we will let Him. It is not what we expect to happen. And it does not make any sense to us in the natural. Adversity should make us hard. It should make us bitter. But again – God’s ways are different from us. The opposite. And through unresolved expectations – His grace comes in and shows us a better way to live – and a better way to love people.
Does this mean people cannot fulfill expectations? Will they sometimes fall short? Yes. Oh my – yes.
Have you ever set people up on a pedestal? Those you thought would never hurt you or fail you? Do you allow for them to be human beings? Do you expect them to be something they are not? When they fail you – are you devastated? Do you use this hurt as an excuse to hide from the human race – and blaming others has become a “good friend” to you? It works for you to play the “victim” card? Did someone fail you? No one can hurt you like someone you really love. Do you forgive? Jesus said we must.
Remember our expectations can get us into trouble. Fantasy and reality are two different things in this game called life.
We must then, put our trust and expectations in God. He is constant and will never fail us. When people in your life don’t measure up – remember that God may simply be teaching you a wonderful lesson – and teaching through the disappointment. If we look to people – even a true trusted friend or a spouse – at some point they will fall short of your expectations. And they will fail you.
Look up! Look to God who is the “author and completer of your faith” His ways are “opposite” of ours. He sees the big picture of your life.
I am praying for you