Great Expectations - Part 2
copyright 2006, Lani Wiens
a fresh flowers original
I wasn't originally planning on having a part two to this flower but one seems to have popped up and deserves recognition. Many of you could relate to last week's diaganosis of R.U. E. (ridiculously unrealistic expectations). On Sunday morning a friend jokingly accused me of propogating the illness!! My husband was away all weekend at a men's retreat and believe it or not I managed, in my very pregnant state to get four of my five kids (one was at a friend's house) ready for church, do my own hair a little more fancy than usual as well as my daughter's and arrive for church on time (we rarely get to church on time). So my friend looked at all that and figured that it wasn't quite fair since she has two kids, her husband was home and she had only managed a ponytail that morning. I assured her she needed to hear the rest of the story. The only reason this feat was accomplished was because my kids woke me up before 6:00 AM and even moving as slowly as I was I could get done what needed to be done because I had so much time and they were unusually cooperative - and really, I only needed to dress myself and the two year old - the rest can do it on their own.
However, that interaction caused me to miss most of the sermon that morning because I couldn't stop thinking about it. There are a couple more components to this expectation business that can't be ignored. The expectations we place on other people based on our own capabilities and God-given tasks and the expectations we take on from other people based on their capabilities and God-given tasks. Let me illustrate.
We have a large family by today's standards. When people learn that I am about to have our sixth child jaws drop and eyes roll back. For us, it isn't really a big deal. We always wanted to have a large family. Children are a God-given role for me. I have been a babysitter from the time I was old enough to do it. I have more than a dozen nieces and nephews. I've worked in children's ministry in one form or another for about twenty years. It is not uncommon to have a few extra children running through our house. I am not a perfect mother or parent, I lose it, I get overwhelmed with all of them at times, sometimes I wonder at my sanity and some days I can barely handle having one child around. However, in the grand scheme of things God has equipped me to have a large 'children capacity'. Not everyone has that capacity. For some one or two children is the maximum 'children capacity' that they carry. It would be absolutely wrong for me to put on that person an expectation that because they only have one or two children that they are somehow inferior or inadequate (if I have done that inadvertently to anyone reading this I sincerely apologize).
Only just recently was I convicted about my attitude in that. A dear sister in the Lord pointed out that all of our plates are full, just with different things. For some the largest portion may be children, for some the largest portion may be ministry or working in the marketplace. It is not our place to judge someone else's capacity to do certain things. I wouldn't expect my two year old to do the things that my nine year old can do, that would be ridiculous, but we do it to one another quite often.
As it says in Romans 12, "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought...Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function...We have different gifts, according to the grace given us....." Where would I be if everyone had the same size family that I do? There would be no one able to help me in a time of need. In the same way if someone is saying to me that I should be, oh, let's say, keeping five gardens so that I can feed the poor and I give myself to that at the expense of my children I will not be fulfilling my God-given task.
On the flip side of this is that we must not look at what someone else does and condemn ourselves for not being able to do the same. I do this to myself all the time. I look at what someone else is doing and think that I should be able to do that, too. This is also not right. My mother can sew faster than anyone I know. In one week she took a bunch of little scraps of fabric and made them into a completely finished quilt. It was beautiful. If I take that expectation on myself I would make myself and those around me crazy. There are many factors to look at, for one thing my mom has been sewing for far longer than I have. She no longer has children at home. She has a top of the line 'make you coffee' sewing machine. She is semi-retired. She has time, resources and skills available to her that I don't have. So I should not expect that I can do the things that she can. I need to be content with my time, resources and skills that I have at my disposal right now. There may be a season down the road in which God will give that kind of time, resource and skill but it isn't now. Sometimes the season in our life is our limiting factor.
Each of us is given tasks to carry out by the Lord as it says, "We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Eph 2:10) To some He will give the task of leading multitudes and to some He will give the task of working with their hands. As it says in Proverbs we need to look well to the ways of our household. Not all of us can sing or dance or draw. Not all of us can teach, weld or sail a ship. Be content with the tasks that God has assigned to you right now. They may be different than what you used to do. They may change in the future.
There is something that we can expect with all hope and no fear, that God will do what He says He will. All His promises will come to pass. That is, indeed, a great expectation.