“Keep your expectations low, and you’ll rarely be disappointed.”
It is a somber view of life, one which often short changes those around us and those whom we love. We don’t expect much from the friendship or relationship so we just kind of settle for whatever, and in so doing, miss out on many wonderful opportunities for growth and change and love. And I wonder, as believers, if we too often fall into this kind of thinking. But I wonder in a different sort of way than you might think. I have been wondering lately if I have short changed God’s expectations of me?
And it is dear ole’ Abraham’s fault. We heard that wonderful reading from the author of Hebrews about faith and Abraham setting out in hope and trust. Ho hum. Very nice. But what you might miss, unless you know the rest of the story is one significant little fact. Abraham was NINETY years old when he set out. No spring chicken by any one’s imagination. Somehow, at ninety, Abraham had this sense that God was not done with him. He came to believe that there was something MORE that God wanted from him, another journey to make, another task for him to accomplish. And so he and Sarah set out, to cross hundreds of miles to a land God would show him, and moreover, a destiny that was hard for him to even think about becoming a reality at his age.
“You will be a father to NATIONS. If you will dare to hold this high expectation in your heart, then I will do great things with it. But you have to hold it in your heart. You have to trust that I am not done with you.” That is what God says to Abraham. And to his credit, Abraham breathes in that promise and believes and sets out and makes that journey of faith. God had high expectations for Abraham. Much was demanded of him. And much was accomplished through Him.
I had a moment in a conversation on Thursday at Christian Family Camp when I realized I had set God’s bar for me too low. I was sharing that there is a committee in the Archdiocese that has just been formed to look at what to do about the dwindling numbers of priests and how we might best allocate them and what that might look like in terms of staffing parishes, etc. I have been named to the committee. And I was sharing how daunting that was and how I was not sure if I had the right gifts and talents for it. It will eventually involve the laity and the religious communities and effect every catholic in the Archdiocese as we figure out ‘how to be church’ in the days to come. And though I had pushed for this idea of planning for 4 years in the priests’ council, I was really hoping that someone else would do it. A gal named Kate in our small group put that whole package in a very different light for me when she said simply: “How exciting for you. You get to be involved in the transformation of the Diocese.” (2x)
Didn’t see that one coming! But woof, there it was. And somehow though I am still intimidated by the prospect, I was able to see it as part of the expectation that God has for me and for us as a church, to do things differently as we go forward. I feel this hand upon my shoulder – with a reassuring, but challenging nudge saying GO…
And for you, have you sold God short in his expectation for you? I have a single Question for you to think of and pray into this week. I’ve asked it before. Now I want you to think about it in light of God’s high expectations FOR you:
“What is MINE TO DO this day?” What does God still expect me to accomplish with the gifts and talents and time he has given me?
Abraham changed human history when he set out at the age of ninety. Imagine what we can do…