|High Expectations by Arthur John Elsley|
Tricky things, aren't they? Expectations. On the one hand, we're told to expect great things, especially from God. On the other hand, they can lead to disappointment. Take, for example, these two opposite quotes:
I don't have expectations. Expectations in your life just lead to giant disappointments.High expectations are the key to everything.
An obvious split opinion on this topic. =) And I'm not sure where I come down on it, so I figured I'd think my way through it in a post. Because wherever I'll end up on it ten minutes from now, it's a topic on my mind after conference.
On the one hand, I will state definitively that it is good and right and necessary to expect great things from the Lord. Honestly, I don't know that it's even expectation so much as faith. Trust that He will deliver what He has promised. Which isn't usually (sometimes, but not usually) specifics--a nice house or fabulous car or fame--its overarching stuff. He promises that He will be sufficient. He promises that He will sustain us. He promises us that no matter how alone we feel, He is beside us. And because of that, we can expect Him to show up when we come to Him with open arms. We can expect to feel Him move in church. We can expect blessing when we follow Him.
But that doesn't mean the blessing will look like we expect it to, right?
Because conference is on the brain, I'll use that as an example. There have been years when I felt there was no need to go, and years I felt I should. Did I always see results? Um . . . maybe, eventually. But rarely like I thought I would. From my first conference, I did indeed sign with my top pick agent. From my second, I got a lot of manuscript requests--didn't sell to anyone I met there though. At least not that book. ;-) Last year I went and came away with a feeling of "What was the point of that?? I don't regret going, but..."
See, I think when we get a promise from God, a directive that we obey, we form specific expectations. Like if God says, "Go to the conference," we expect to come home with a feeling of euphoria from having made that awesome connection or even to get a "Yes!" from an editor there. (It's happened! I've seen people leave with contracts!)
But isn't that kind of putting God in a box? Saying, "You promised You'd move, so obviously it must be this way." I know that's what I've done. But it just doesn't work that way.
We have such finite perspectives. We can only see so far ahead. And usually only straight ahead. Our view is colored by our feelings. And while we can't get away from that, from the way we're made, God's asking us to trust Him. Not to give up our expectations . . . but to never give up on our expectations. Does that make sense? To hold tight to them even when we feel disappointed. To hold to Him. To keep knocking, keep beseeching, keep pounding the gates of heaven. And to do that trusting that the promises are still there. That He's leading us toward a shining mountaintop, even when all we see is the shadow of the valley.