Posted by: mikenicholsblog | October 16, 2016

great expectations

Great Expectations can be a slippery slope.  How many times in life have we all seen wonderful plans go awry? It may have been an event that was going to be the best ever … and it wasn’t. Often the culprits in failing our expectations are people … friends, colleagues, and even family. We were certain they would be there for us, help us, or respond in-kind to how we had blessed them.  But time after time, our preconceived expectations were dashed.

In truth, everywhere we turn, my (our) expectations are not met. It happens with my favorite professional football team (constantly).  It happens with church experiences that fall far short and cause emotional conflict. Certainly, Christians and church leaders would never disappoint my spiritual, emotional or “rational” expectations … would they?!  Even in family relationships my hopes have been dashed. My dad’s life veered off course and he died very young, leaving my brother and me to miss a key relationship as we grew into adulthood.  By using personal examples, I was speaking for me and you, because expectations often set us all up for disappointment.

It is easy to say, “My expectations have been dashed many times by others.”  We settle for what amounts to excuses, and we are quick to transfer blame. But the truth is, the responsibility for my greatest disappointments in expectation can be laid right at my own feet.  I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that you feel the same. How many times in life have we let ourselves down? It may have been a selfish action, a critical word, losing a job or simply failing to honor the Lord. We have all had expectations of how we wanted to live life and a vision of how our lives should go. And then, we let ourselves down!

Quite frankly, we all will continue to let ourselves down. But some of my personal reading recently has given me hope in the area of expectations. In so many ways we are all very weak and will never come close to “perfect” on this side of the grave. So, maybe it’s time for me (and you) to have a more balanced view of personal expectations. II Corinthians 12:9-12 gives great counsel from the apostle Paul:

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul pleaded that his thorn would leave him. God’s answer turned the human equation upside down.  Strength doesn’t beget strength.  Embracing our weakness allows God to display His power in and through us – “…for my power is made perfect in (your) weakness.”; “For when I am weak then I am strong.”

Could it be that the key to fulfilled expectations is an unyielding dependence on the Father every single moment of every day? Embracing our weakness and depending on His power is the only way to live. And by the way, when we embrace our weaknesses and fully trust the power of God, something unusual is bound to happen.  We might just start looking at all those who have disappointed us, hurt us and dashed our expectations in a radically different way … With a forgiving and loving heart!

Is there someone in your life that needs forgiving? Don’t delay!

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