Posted tagged ‘possibilities’

What Do You Expect?

December 20, 2013

 

      Expectations.

When I’ve heard someone ask the question “What do you expect?” it has conveyed one of two opposite extremes.

I’ve heard it asked mockingly, referring to the lack of intelligence or ability in another person. A college student flunks a math class, and his father says to his mother, “What do you expect?” In other words, the parent had no expectations of his child for any kind of success. Sad as it is, the failure is almost hoped for by the cynical dad.

Expectations can be extinguished by past experience. It is easy to predestine personal failure because someone believes it would be out of character for him to rise above mediocrity.

But there’s another way to ask “What do you expect?”, and it is in a way that elevates, dreams, thinks of new possibilities.

Ask a class of first-graders what they want to be when they grow up and there will be lofty pictures and occupations. First-graders want to be President, or doctors, or olympic athletes, or zoologists (Okay! Maybe they just say “someone who takes care of the giraffes!”) , or Air Force pilots . Their expectations are still mountain-top like!

The story of the shepherds out in the fields taking care of their flocks as the Christ-child is being birthed is a picture of people who were raised out of their mediocrity. Shepherds usually resigned themselves to a life of mundane sheep-watching and protection. And now here is a group of sheep-herders who are pulled into the incarnation event.

No one had ever asked themselves about expectations. They hadn’t been included in such lofty  conversations.

We serve a God who asks the question “What do you expect?”

He asks it, however, in ways that seek to have us look for the possibilities?

The Disappointment of New Possibilities

April 19, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                  April 19, 2013

 

This past week I had the door closed on me twice in regards to opportunities related to one of my passions, one of the things that I’ve been involved in that energize me. Suddenly what looked like a new venture, a new chapter, became a brick wall. A few days the brick wall re-emerged in regards to another possibility.

What does a person do when the wind is taken out of the sail? I admit that my initial reaction was one of self-pity and confusion. My ego jumped into the ring and became the center of attention. When the situation revolves around something that we are passionate about it is easy to go that way. Most of us believe that our giftedness is always affirmed with a “yes”, as it relates to the area we are gifted in. Our value gets tied up with the opportunity.

When our passions, experience, and skill get presented with a new opportunity that is seemingly in perfect harmony with them we assume this is the way of God. This is the door that is being opened for us. We even spiritualize it by saying that all we need to do is have faith to walk through it.

But there are times when perfect alignment is not the tell-tale sign that this is what God was preparing for us all along.

Sometimes God is in the closed doors! That’s hard for most of us to hear because we believe more in open doors than closed doors. Closed doors require us to look further. Closed doors make us wait. Closed doors can sometimes even be an indication that a chapter has ended. We’d prefer a “Let’s Make A Deal” scenario where we get to choose between three doors instead of two closed doors and one open.

I remember a number of years ago being contacted by a pastoral search committee. One Sunday they inconspicuously visited the worship service at the church I pastored. Carol and I met with them about a month later “on their turf” and, from all indications, we felt God was calling us to move there. Then, in the midst of that, they went in another direction. We were disappointed, but ultimately the church I was pastor of went through a new period of fruitfulness.

It is hard to see the possibilities in rejection. It requires a willingness to trust that God knows what he is doing, and that he desires the best for each one of us… that hard news can lead us to good news.

It encourages me to know that God even gave stop signs to Paul and Silas. In Acts 16:6-7 we read of how the Holy Spirit kept them from preaching in certain areas, while not letting them even enter into other areas. It doesn’t take a seminary professor to be able to determine that Paul was being very effective in his ministry. You would think that all doors would be opened to him! But God had specific plans for him. A closed door one moment could be connected to a fulfilled purpose a few years down the road.

So my discouragement is tinted by eyes looking for new directions. The glare of being turned down will gradually dim and suddenly there in front of me will be the defined way.