Friday, December 18, 2009

Expectations

"'Tis the season of making lists - fa la la la la, la la la la
I want that and get me this..."

I'm fairly certain that you didn't make a list for Santa this year; there are no toy catalogs filled with things circled in marker, no letters to the North Pole, or things whispered to a man in the mall in a red suit. But that's not to say that we don't come into the season, as do the children, without expectations, we're just not as overt in sharing them.

Practically every magazine on the checkout racks this time of year has at least one article on "Tips and Gifts for the Perfect Christmas". Slick covers show homes that probably took a professional team of decorators to transform into these Norman Rockwell worthy showplaces. Spoken or not we have desires for gifts, or for those around us to know us well enough to get us something that complements who we are or who we see ourselves as being. The turkey should be moist, the children well behaved, the music performed flawlessly, the ground covered just so with enough snow to make it pretty but not enough to make it treacherous, our favorite Christmas songs playing on the radio and everyone and everything will be just exactly right!

Because this is the season of expectation it is also the season of disappointment.

The decor never quite makes it to the standards of Beautiful Home, the gifts are perfunctory, half the dinner is cold by the time the other half is ready, there are empty places at the table or there are places you wish were empty, the roads are slick, all these awful versions of your favorite songs are played, the toys break minutes after coming out of the boxes, and the kids with too little sleep and too much sugar are crabby...

And, at this "most wonderful time of the year", we find ourselves dealing with disappointment and then think what is wrong with me? This is supposed to be "the most wonderful time of the year"! Even the music sets us up with expectations...

"My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation: He is my defence; I shall not be moved.
In God is my salvation, and my glory; the rock of my strength and my refuge, is in God.
Trust in him at all times, O people,
Pour out your heart before Him.
God is a refuge for us." Psalms 62:5-8

"My expectation is from Him". The encouragement here is to make God the One we look to, the One we place our hope in, the One and only one in whom we have expectations. But...I've found that hard to do.

As I've gotten older I've consciously dialed back my expectations, not from some great source of spiritual discernment, but from experience and because I've figured out that the less I expect, the less I'll be disappointed and if I don't expect anything I have the ability to be delightfully surprised. But still, those expectations, they sneak in and take up residence in our longings.

So, if we have expectations and when they go unfulfilled; God invites us to pour out our hearts to Him. Go ahead, sit with God and tell Him how you are disappointed. Pour out your heart for the promise is that He will be a refuge for us, and that is one expectation that absolutely cannot be disappointed!

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