How many times have you not heard… “this is what you can expect…” weather it's the carpet cleaner service, mechanical shop for your car or a customer service situation? And on the other hand, have you ever said these words yourself? “That is not what I expected!” Perhaps, it’s not even about a paid service, perhaps it’s about how people deal with each other in day to day life situations. I never expected for him to be that way… or I never expected she was going to react as she did! We are accustomed to having expectations in just about everything in life. Weather it’s in the context of personal relationships or as we sit at a restaurant expecting a certain level of service or a coffee shop for our drink, we are used to having standards of service. This is a natural human reaction, we make up our minds of what we want or expect from services paid or in the context of relationships with others around us.
As I approach my 2nd upcoming open heart surgery next week, I myself have expectations. It’s a given that I would expect the heart surgeon and his team to be qualified and experienced to perform such an operation, but what about the outcome? Will I make it through the actual surgery? What will the quality of life be post the operation? Am I not entitled to a positive outcome? “Entitlement,” that’s always an interesting concept. When we face life challenges is it not true that our natural tendency is to face them with a mixture of both apprehension and expectation for the best? We hope for a certain outcome. But what if it does not turn out the way we expected? What if things turn out to be different? In some way or another we all know life does not always turn out to be exactly what we expected it to be.
Surprises are part of life. This is a reality we all wrestle with.
There was a small group of people who once came to Jesus and asked Him… are you the one we expected or should we be looking for someone else? When they ask this question they already had an expectation in mind, they approached Him with a decided outcome in their hearts for a leader to change the political arrangement of the country. They came to Him with an assumption, their minds were made up. Don’t we all do this? We approach God with needs and concerns of all sorts, but also with the expectation of what He is going to give or do for us. Perhaps, what we feel entitled to is based on the fact that “His will” must also be “my best”. But His plans and ideas for best versus what I think is best can very different. Can we live with this?
How did Jesus respond to their question?
The blind see,
The lame walk,
Lepers are cleansed,
The dead are raised,
The rejected people of the earth learn that God is on their side.
I noticed He didn’t even respond to their question? He redirected them to see something different they were completely missing, the vulnerable of society.
Yesterday I was reminded of this in a very practical way as I entered a fast food place to get some lunch. A bit away from the door entrance stood a 45-year-old man who in a low broken voice ask for help, I smiled and walked in. As I was standing in line to order my food I processed my reaction realizing my lack of response to a need, I basically walked by someone in need and did nothing where so many times that call for help is not a loud one but a broken low voice of someone whose been beat up by life circumstances. I left my place in line, went out and ask my new friend, also named Jeff, if he was hungry which he looked at me and said with big eyes, yes. So we both got in line, got our food and ate as he shared his life story about his wife, children and life in general. I was able to help in other ways and hopefully will see him soon again but I walked away from this asking myself; why didn’t I not notice him in the first place? Am I so focus on my day’s expectation and outcomes of a schedule that I can’t even notice the hurting around me? I run an anti-trafficking organization helping women in bondage in other countries and here in my own backyard I don’t stop to notice those in need? How easy it is to just walk by! Jesus said to this group… go back and tell John what you “see and hear” about how the hurting of society are noticed by me. Jesus was definitely on a different page, the same one he continues to be on today. Are we on the same page as Jesus? Or do we miss the opportunity as I did?
At the end of Jesus conversation with this small group He stated, “Wisdom is shown right by its results”.
It is clear the results He’s talking about are related to the vulnerable of society. Basically, when I spend myself on behalf of those who today are in bondage, hopeless and oppressed by various circumstances of life, I’m making a wise choice and this pleases God. Basically, Jesus said to this group, “When you do this count yourselves most blessed!”
I face this next challenge in life with no expectations other than what God has for my life. Personally, this is what it’s all about, whatever the outcome is on the other side of surgery and as long as I’m breathing, I’m sold out to His mission-- one that has not changed since He walked this earth. More than ever I want to be on the alert of hearing the small broken voice of the one who today is still trafficked, I want to be present in her reality, show up, stand by and help provide a way out of a life of bondage and oppression.
“But wisdom is shown right by its results!”