I’m expecting good things from this post…
The scenario. Jesus continued on his travels and entered a village where Martha opened her home to him. Mary sat and listened; hanging on every word Jesus said while Martha busied herself in the kitchen. Martha has often got a bad rap in this story but in her defence she did open her home and they had to eat!
…But all she had to do in the kitchen pulled Martha away. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. ‘Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand’. Oh, I’d be huffin and a puffin in that kitchen clattering those dishes, sighing and whying. Poking in my head in and with that sarcastic edge saying ‘err sorry to interrupt but is there any chance of some help in here’.
Martha’s expectations were different. Jesus responds with ‘Mary has chosen better.’ There’s the expectation gap – the gap between what we expect and what we experience.
That gap exists in our everyday doesn’t it.
Our summer holidays, the care of others, your kids rooms, their behaviour, them. What church should look like, feel like, sound like.
Frustration sets it until it becomes the bitterness gap. My experience is often limited by my expectations.
*I recognize that our disappointments are often much bigger than this story but we can learn from the heart of it.
Here are some points to consider:
I cannot expect what I do not express. At least Martha said what she was thinking. ‘Don’t you care Lord that she’s left me abandoned in the kitchen.’ How often do I leave my expectations unexpressed? Quietly imposing my standards on others.
I am not authorized to negotiate anyone else’s relationship with God. We can be disappointed in our experience of others, expecting them to express their faith in a certain way. We cannot live another’s experience, worship, prayer or service. We are individually called to answer for our own.
My problem is placing my perception of God’s expectation on others. I realize more and more I have to stand before God for me – not you.
I have attended 4 churches in my 25-year journey with Jesus. I began in a church of ‘no denomination’ although affiliated with the Holiness Pentecostal Movement. For me, there were positives that I hold dear. But we were the best, the elite – or so we thought. We were charismatic; we hosted the biggest names in that movement, we did the lot, often with a heavy dose of judgment on our part. Sorry.
Years later, Phil became Pastor of our home church, our roots. It was here I decided to live out my faith differently because I didn’t want to be told how to behave in my expression. I would do it my way…all this while looking back and judging my previous experience. 8 years later I moved to an Anglican church in the role of community worker. I quickly judged this church, desperate for things as they were until I decided to remove my charismatic blinkers. I took God out ‘my’ box and began to embrace worship, liturgy, service as it is meant to be. Personal. Owned. It was then I saw a community of people loving God, owning their calling and serving well in the community they were given.
And now I am here, in Kelowna at Willow Park Church. Embracing all of the above in a boxless, spacious place.
I must resist the temptation to draft others into my dysfunction. The above kind of attitude brings a ‘nobody gets lives it the right way but me mentality.’ If there are certain cycles on repeat. Like every church is dissatisfying and every friendship is not up to my standards and everything your child does is not good enough. We might need to look in the mirror. I know I do anyway.
Jesus says ‘Martha Martha, you’re fussing’
Michelle Michelle, you are worried upset, stop the ‘if only they would just….’
The greatest source of my frustration with others is my confusion about God’s expectations of me. Martha was doing the right thing, the thing she was good at, but her heart was a confused. Ask this question. What is it Lord that you want of me? Clarify his expectations of you and hold them close. One of my favorite posts was the expectations of a pastor’s wife. Expectations of others on me – perceived or otherwise.
I know many who read this are in places they never expected to be. Jesus is saying don’t let the way you thought it should play out keep you from experiencing the joy of entering the deepest place and finding me there.
Mary chose what was better. His presence. His ways are above our ways, his thoughts above our thoughts. Don’t let darkness diminish your expectation, it’s time to resurrect your hope.
*Don’t let what you expected keep you from what God wants you to experience* Steven Furtick
I’ll finish with this story…
WELCOME TO HOLLAND
By Emily Perl Kingsley.
c1987. All rights reserved
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this……
When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”
“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”
But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.
Hope this encourages you today!
See you tomorrow,
Love, Michelle xoxo
*Today’s post was inspired by Steven Furtick’s teaching ‘the Expectation Gap’