What an Armed Robbery Taught Me About EXPECTATIONS
Sometimes in life, disappointing, painful or even traumatic things happen that we weren't expecting at all and can make us feel stunned, unnerved, unsure. It's completely normal to feel that way, and we need to embrace those feelings so that we can process them. When we handle ourselves with care, these unpleasant experiences have the potential to make us wiser and stronger. But the way we navigate through these moments and their aftermath will determine whether we carry unnecessary baggage and become untrusting, cynical, fearful people. Maybe you're facing something unexpected and walking through the surrounding circumstances.
In the previous post I shared some things I've discovered to be true for me when it comes to expectations. (see previous post Are Your Expectations Hurting or Helping?) I've found that when people let us down or life doesn't "happen" on time or as we thought it would, it's important to 1) grieve unmet expectations, 2) forgive when necessary, and then, 3) be grateful for what is. This sets us up to have fresh, healthy, correctly-placed expectations. Which leads me to this next point...
4. Move your expectations to a secure place.
I went through an armed robbery a few years ago, one day when I was alone in our home in South Africa. Unfortunately, armed robberies are too common in South Africa, and it was a risk we knowingly lived with. I didn't struggle to understand "why me?" but nonetheless, it certainly didn't fit neatly into my idea of an ideal life ... into my "expectations."
About a week after the robbery, I realized that the date on which the robbery had happened, January 15th, was the six-year anniversary of our family moving to South Africa. That got my attention. (For whatever reason, dates have often carried significant meaning in my life and I usually take note of them.) I had started the new year reading through the book of Genesis in the Bible and so it occurred to me to look up the reference that matched the date (in South Africa the date is written month first and then the day, so it was 15/1).
Genesis 15:1 “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.”
I sensed God saying to me, "I never promised you that you wouldn’t face trouble, but I said, 'Do not be afraid. I am your shield.'"
The robbery had been unexpected, but Him being with me? - I can always expect that. So, in that moment of realization, I put my expectations more squarely, more securely upon Him. I can honestly tell you that since that experience, I am a less fearful person than before I experienced an armed robbery - for no other reason than I moved my expectations to God. He had been there for me. He was my shield.
A traumatic event (or any unpleasant thing we go through) can make us less trusting or more trusting, less expecting towards God, or more expecting. We can choose the latter.
“...I am your very great reward.” (Genesis 15:1) I may have lost my wedding ring, all the jewelry I owned, some other valuables and had my personal safety compromised, but now, in its place, I had more understanding of God's sturdiness, of His faithfulness, of His love. And that is more precious than all the jewels in the world. That is enough. That is a reward in my life.
Life let me down that day, but God didn't. So, He's the secure place for our expectations. Expect Him, expect His goodness, no matter what - even if you have to wait for it...
5. Expectation waits well.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD . “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. Jeremiah 29:11-13
There is something to be found in waiting. In the verse above, God is saying, “I have good plans for you, but while you’re waiting, search for me. Find me."
I have news that might make you uncomfortable: God isn’t too concerned with us going through some difficulty or us having to wait. Why? Because He knows He’s going to be faithful and with us through it all and He plans to show us more of who He really is in that process. We're the ones who forget that. (Plenty of accounts of lives in the scriptures support this.)
To make wine, grapes are crushed. But then, there is waiting for the wine to ferment. Sometimes we're crushed in life from disappointments, from unmet expectations. If we can meet Jesus in that place and let Him press us with His love, influence and presence - if we can wait there with Him - I promise you He will bring fresh, new wine from those places. Wine is more expensive and valuable than grapes because it has gone through a process. Expect the wine.
There are several references in scripture to “new wine." It implies that this wine is something fresh – from a fresh pressing. “New wine” is from this year’s harvest and pressing. Your "new wine" is the freshest thing you have to offer from what God has recently done in your life or is doing in your life right now.
In scripture, new wine is a symbol of God’s refreshing Spirit, a sign of God’s blessing and abundance.
So, what does God want to bring from our unmet expectations and our disappointments? When we can move our expectations to Him, He wants to bring His refreshing Spirit, His blessing and abundance into that place in our lives.
HE wants to meet our unmet expectations.
In ancient Old Testament times, the new wine was part of the drink offering that the priests would pour out onto the altar in worship to God. So our "new wine" can also be "poured out" in in worship to God as we love and serve others. When we allow God to bring new wine from our lives, then we have His refreshing Spirit, His blessing and abundance to give away to others which takes on the form of service.
I've been living on this new song “New Wine” by Brooke Ligertwood of Hillsong.
“In the crushing In the pressing You are making new wine”
“I lay down my old flames To carry Your new fire today”
For me, those “old flames” are my old expectations. Listen to "New Wine" here.