When I started running a little over a year ago, I envisioned that time becoming a tremendous opportunity to talk to God, to enjoy the early morning quiet (I run at 5 a.m.) and have some me time. So far my prayers mostly consist of important things like "Next breath, God…" and "Let me get my phone out before the heart attack hits." Important- maybe. Deeply spiritual- not so much. However, that's not to say God hasn't taught me some great life lessons (and He's given me a few great posts, too.) Over the next several weeks, I'd like to share some of those things and how they apply to this race we are all in. "…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus…" Hebrews 12:1-2
Lesson #1 Throw Out Your Expectations
Remember I said I expected to have this super-spiritual time during my run? Didn't happen. I also expected to lose weight. Didn't happen. I also found out if you've never run, forty-five seconds is embarrassingly challenging. I quickly learned this was new territory and previously held ideas and standards no longer applied. Sure, I could walk 3-4 miles, no trouble. Running was different.
In our Christian race, whether we are new believers, or we've been at this for years, we bring an armload of expectations with us, expectations that, when unmet, damage our faith.
We hold on to things like "now that I'm a believer, things will get easier." And when the opposite happens, we are swallowed up with "why did You let this happen to me?" We have ideas about how God should let us serve Him. When He wants to take us in a new and different direction, we resist or even refuse. We have notions about what our results should be, and we measure our "success" or "failure" by our standards.
Living in a way that honors God is different from any other approach to life.
What standards and preconceived ideas do we draw on? Personal experience. Historical examples. Business models that don't always work, teaching techniques that sometimes fail, and marketing strategies that often miss the mark. Living a life of faith is different. It's constantly 'looking unto Jesus" and nowhere else, fixing and re-fixing my eyes on the author and finisher of my faith.
The more I cling to my expectations, the more I frustrate His purposes.
God's goal is making me more Christ-like, preparing me to serve Him through eternity. My life now is a wisp of a warm-up for my real calling. It's not the main event. I forget that. Doing things God's way means that hard times bring joy and strength while easy times make me lazy and prone to ignore God. Failing to meet a goal may actually mean success in surrendering my plans to Him.
Have you had to give up some expectations to follow Jesus? Was it hard?