Posts tagged ‘expectations’

What Do You Expect?

As they [Peter and John] approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money. Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”   Acts 3:2-6

When my daughter, Sally, asked me to run a marathon with her, I expected to get into shape. I had tried several times in the past to run on a regular basis. I would buy the right shoes and running clothes to be successful. I would set aside a time each day to run. But something would always happen that derailed my best efforts. So I decided to give this a try with Sally with the expectation that I would simply be more fit. 

We see a story in Acts of man who had temporal expectations of his needs being fulfilled at the temple. He was taken to the temple to get a little money to survive another day. He was being reasonable. He was not asking for the world. Like me with running, he simply wanted to be a little better off for the experience. But Peter knew God had so much more to give this man. So he said, “Look at us!” It’s as if Peter was slapping him in the face to get his attention. He was at the temple of God, after all! He was at the place where miracles occurred, lives were changed, sins forgiven, and power experienced. 

But instead of giving him money, Peter healed the man in the name of Jesus. The fact is that Jesus gives us far more than we ask if we can only accept it. But our expectations can get in the way. This man was focused on his own condition thinking he could never change, never be healed, never be able to be a blessing to anyone else. And so he was seeking a few coins to make it on this earth without thought of the new earth. He was seeking temporal gain without a burning desire for eternal transformation. He was living in his own kingdom rather than the Kingdom of God. 

The goal of completing a marathon changed my approach to running. I read books on how to train, what to eat, when and how far to run. Sally was my Peter. When I made excuses, she said, “Look, we can do this!” Once I began, I realized I had failed at running in the past because I had only focused on the temporal expectations. Once I began training for a marathon, those meager expectations were shattered by the reality of the eternal and spiritual benefits God had in store for me. Running became an obsession that changed my life. I found it to be a spiritual experience that helped me face issues in my life I didn’t even realize were there. I learned the connection between my mind and my body. In the process, I learned the importance of living from the heart that allowed me to connect with Sally, and others, in ways I never thought possible. It was during my training runs that I connected in God more deeply that allowed me to hear His call into pastoral ministry.

What are your expectations for life? What are your expectations today? Too often we live for temporal benefits alone. We go to work expecting nothing more than a paycheck. We do our errands expecting nothing more than getting bills paid and the groceries bought. But God is saying to each one of us each day, “Look at ME!” When we look at Him, He will heal our broken hearts, correct our screwed up thoughts, and transform our weakened lives. When we focus on the temporal, the best we can do is get in a little better shape. When we look at Him, we gain the eternal realities of faith and love that become a part of everything we do in every circumstance with every person every day.

What Are the Stressors in Your Life?

Yes, this anguish was good for me, for you have rescued me from death and forgiven all my sins.  Isaiah 38:17

King Hezekiah was deathly ill and only had a few days to live. Hezekiah turned to God for healing. He did not go to the healers of the day. He did not ask to be taken to the Mayo Clinic of the ancient world. He turned directly to God who gave him 15 more years. As a result, we see Hezekiah’s response recorded in Isaiah. He recognized a direct correlation between his physical and spiritual health.

I have discovered that stress is a major contributor to my heart condition. I often develop symptoms at times of stress that are not present with even vigorous exercise. But what causes stress? And does it have to be deleterious to our health? Stress is the word we most often use to describe our internal response to stressors, which are external to us. So when someone cuts me off in traffic, that can be a stressor that can cause an angry response in me that I call stress. But what if that incident didn’t cause me to be angry? What if I were in a conversation with God at the moment someone cut me off in traffic? My response would likely be much different and the incident would not be stressful!

Perhaps an active prayer life, one in which I “never stop praying” (1 Thes 5:17) is the key to reducing stress and adding up to 15 years of life! That was Hezekiah’s experience. He was a man of prayer. He immediately turned to God in any situation. And even when Isaiah later told him that his kingdom would be conquered by the Babylonians and that even some of his own sons would be taken as exiles to Babylon, he still had peace. 

I am comforted by Hezekiah’s experience for two reasons: 1) Staying in touch with God throughout the day, living in an attitude of prayer, is the key to overcoming the stressors of life and living in peace.  2) I don’t have to be perfect. Forgiveness is part of the stress management package God offers me. When I accept God’s forgiveness and live in His grace, I can forgive others. When I refuse to forgive others, I compound the stress in my life. When I get angry at the guy who cuts me off in traffic, I am not forgiving him. This produces stress! But when I am connected to Jesus, forgiveness is my first response and the incident isn’t even a stressor!

I have discovered that the expectations I internalize in my life are often the root cause of the stress in my life. Anything I see as preventing me from meeting the expectations I have adopted for my life become threats to my success and thus major stressors. But when I accept God’s expectations for my life and live in His will, then what I otherwise would see as a stressor becomes an opportunity for growth or even an outright blessing. Yes, God can turn a stressor into a blessing when I live with His expectations and in His calling.

What are the stressors in your life? Identify them this week. Give them to God, and never stop praying. You might just add 15 years to your life.

Expectations

In 2 Kings 5 we read a story about Naaman who was a mighty warrior from Aram. The army of Aram had won many battles against Israel. However, Naaman had an incurable disease, leprosy. He was told by his servant whom he had captured in a battle against Israel that there was a prophet in Israel named Elisha who could heal him. So Naaman went bearing gifts to see Elisha. Naaman was fully prepared to pay for his curative treatment which he expected to be a simple waving of the hands and perhaps a prayer to the “god” of Israel. Naaman expected to be treated with respect as a conqueror. After all, Elisha was his subordinate.  Instead of being greeted by Elisha, Naaman was greeted by Elisha’s servant who told him to submerge himself seven times in the dirtiest of rivers. He was outraged. He had been disrespected. His expectations to be treated with deference as a victorious mighty warrior had not been met. He began to leave in a rage when his officers persuaded him to do as Elisha’s servant had asked. As a result, Naaman was healed. 

This is when Naaman said, “…Now I know that there is no other ‘God’ in all the world except in Israel.” (2 Kings 5:15) Naaman’s expectations almost cost him his life and his salvation. Naaman committed himself to the God of Israel and was given peace as is always the case when we submit our expectations to the will of God. (2 Kings 5:19)

What expectations do you have that could prevent you from submitting to God’s will? Would you be willing to take instructions from a subordinate of yours? From whom can you learn? We often restrict ourselves from hearing, seeing, and experiencing the power of God because of our expectations. What would it look like in your life to submit your expectations to God? May you have friends in your life to help you not only manage your expectations, but to submit them to God. And may you experience the peace of God that comes with submission to His will.

What Does God Expect of Me?… Service

The definition of an excuse (noun) is: “a reason or explanation put forward to defend or justify a fault or offense.”

When my children were younger and living at home, I found their excuses tedious at best and often downright maddening. They had excuses for every situation that did not meet my expectations. These situations ranged from unfinished chores to unfinished homework. Excuses were also abundant anytime they knowingly disobeyed the rules of the house. The more common excuses included (not in any particular order): a) I don’t have a watch so I didn’t know the time. b) I didn’t know that rule would apply in this situation. c) The teacher didn’t tell us there would be a test today. d) I didn’t hear you.

I could list dozens of excuses that not only my kids offered to me, but that we offer to God. However, of all the excuses I’ve heard over the years, by far the most common one offered by kids and adults alike is, “I don’t know.” We don’t know why we broke the rule because we haven’t taken the time to know ourselves. When I don’t know why I am not obedient to God, then I’m not even taking His command serious enough to give an acceptable excuse! Perhaps the most common expectation or command from God is the one to serve.

God calls each of us to His mission of service to Him and others. And yet many Christians I know have no idea as to their calling in life. What’s more distressing is that they are not wrestling with God to know their calling. We read throughout the Bible of God’s expectation for His followers to serve others. Do you have an excuse? Or do you have a story to tell of your adventure with God? Over the years I’ve had plenty of excuses to offer to God. I have found that life is better when I offer Him my service rather than my excuses. I have discovered that God transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary when I transform my excuses into obedience. What are you offering to God?

Day 36 to Chanute, KS – Expectations

I have learned to approach each day with anticipation rather than with expectation. When I expect the ride to be hard, it is often easy. When I expect it to be easy, there are many times when it becomes very difficult. I am not certain how much my expectations color my perception of how easy an expected hard ride becomes or how hard an expected easy ride becomes. But I am sure that my expectations are a large factor as to my perceptions during the ride. But when I have no expectations of the level of difficulty of a ride, my anxiety prior to the ride markedly decreases as my ability to handle various challenges during the ride markedly increases.

Today is a perfect example of this principle in action. I had no preconceived ideas about the ride today. I simply wanted to enjoy the journey as I realize it is fast approaching the end. I also know the road surface could be poor at times, the wind could be briskly blowing against me, and even the hills of Kansas could be steep. But I also knew that with God’s strength, I have met every challenge to date. The ride began easy enough with little to know wind and a smooth road surface. However, within 30 minutes the wind began blowing and one hour into the ride there was a 10-15 mph wind that persisted throughout the remainder of the day.  Nearly half the ride was into a strong headwind. Fortunately there was a tailwind for about 30% of the ride with a crosswind the rest of the time. An additional challenge was a late start that placed much of the ride in the heat of the day. Since I was anticipating the journey rather than expecting an easy ride I was able to enjoy the entire ride no matter the circumstances.

I find misguided expectations to be a key factor in the level of frustration, anger, impatience, and general malcontent. Unrealistic expectations are certainly a major cause of increased medical liability. A patient expects there to be no complications 100% of the time even though she has been counseled regarding the risk of surgery. But she expects the complications to effect someone else and not herself. A husband gives his wife flowers for the first time in 30 years. When she responds differently than he expected he becomes angry creating a family feud. If we choose to live each day in anticipation of the unexpected happenings each day brings in our journey through life, we will allow ourselves to experience the joy of the wins as well as the challenges.

Ride Stats:   Total Miles- 80.3      Elev Gain- 1,522 ft       Avg Speed- 13.8 mph       Avg Cadence- 79       Avg Temp- 90.1

 

 

 

Tag Cloud