In a lifetime of following Jesus, with a plethora of peaks and valleys, of feasts and feathers, I’ve learned that managing expectations determines the level of faith frustration or satisfaction. Unrealistic hopes, when birthed, tend to result in disappointment with God—a jaded been there, done that attitude.
Here’s that lesson learned.
Only when riding east to work
Only at the proper time of year
when the sun’s position on its north south journey
aligns with the angle of the 101
Only at the proper time of day
when the sun rises
at just the right height above the horizon
Only when I glance behind the bike
through the side mirrors
at just the correct instant
do the Botts dots that divide the lanes
reflect the sun’s light into a string of red rubies
Only that often
do all the aspects of my life
burst into glory
And I can live with that
Until a year or so ago, I’d never experienced the above. But I’ve been taking my ST1300 in to work much more, so I do tend to look around more, both for scenery and safety. The pic above shows a line of Botts Dots, and I just discovered they have a red reflector on the downstream side. The idea: you’re a bit confused by some substance or lack of sleep or suicidal thoughts, enter the freeway and don’t notice hundreds of cars speeding toward you, but you will see the red Botts Dots reflecting your headlights. If it’s at night. Daytime, look for the cars.
But last spring I first saw this, and again this fall. When all is just right, the sun bounces off the red reflectors which you can see IF you look back during this perfect storm of conditions. Like I said, rare. But the reflected red rubies behind add a touch of glory to a morning ride to work. I need that boost on work days.
Those red rubies are as rare as when my life all comes together in glory. Hope for them, pray for them, but don’t expect them every day. Or frustration will gnaw at your soul.
Jesus promised troubles would attack us, one of those promises we tend to ignore (John 16:33). Jesus promised temptations would batter us (Luke 17:1). Life is trouble and pain and disappointment, so let’s not provide platitudes nor false hopes. He provides the resources we need to handle them, but let’s not expect red rubies every day. They exist. But their glory seems to be directly proportional to their rarity.
That’s when frustrations come, when we cry that we didn’t sign up for this, that we reject faith because Jesus didn’t perform how we wanted him. A loved one isn’t healed, and doubt develops. A raise isn’t given, and bitterness eats at us. A ministry job goes to another, and jealousy slips into our hearts.
Maybe we’re looking at the wrong end result: our preferences rather than God’s goals for us and his overall mission. Years ago I heard author Keith Miller assert that success in life comes from two realizations: God is real, and we’re not him. Sometimes, we need to let God be God and rest in him in the difficulties..
Can we trust in his amply demonstrated love? Can we rely on his wisdom as shown in a marvelously intricate and complex and orderly world? Can we be confident that he is working in the world for good, as he had done for millennia? This doesn’t minimize the very real pain and suffering that many go through. Rather, it maximizes the reality that God is here, he knows, he cares, and how we can manage our expectations to take better advantage of all God is.
Kick Starting the Application
Do you tend to get frustrated with God? Why? What has caused that?
Take a little time to explore what you expect from God. Don’t get sidetracked by what you hope for, but what would disappoint you if it didn’t come. Key question: are those actual and clear promises he’s made, or your own desires? How can you tell the difference?
When it is a valid promise, what role does patience play? Do you have a pattern of thinking God does things late, like a college student strolling into class 15 minutes after the start due to a late night?
How would your walk with Jesus change if you began decreasing your expectations to what he’s promised?