More often than not, we set expectations for God, and regrettably they always seem to be completely unrealistic. For myself, there have been too many times where I’ve wanted God to do something for me, and for it to be done immediately. I would be so consumed by these expectations that I would turn a blind eye to the direction where God was trying to lead me. My journey at Markwest tested and challenged these expectations I had for God, and the very reason I had them in the first place.
As soon as I made my decision to go to Markwest, I set expectations: I wanted God to speak to me, I wanted God to reveal himself to me in a way that was uniqe, and most of all, I wanted God to give me the answers to every single question I’ve ever asked. The months, weeks, and days leading to Markwest, I prayed for these expectations to be met, and when the day came to leave for Markwest, all I wanted was that by the end of those 7 days, for God to fulfill these expectations. I realize now that God had a completely different outcome planned for me.
I should have seen it coming. I should have realized that I was being unreasonable, because God works in such unexpected ways, in ways that we cannot possibly fathom. The night before Markwest, a friend came to me and told me not to have any expectations and to not get angry (spoiler alert: I didn’t really take this advice to heart). These words haunted me during my first few days at Markwest. Every time we dived into scripture, I became more frustrated and angry, I didn’t know where God was, I didn’t see the point in looking so deep into the passage, and my expectations grew higher and higher. It felt like I was digging my own grave, and I knew that I was doing it. I didn’t know how to get out, nor how I really got to that point. It wasn’t until we saw Jesus get frustrated with the Pharisees and his disciples enough times, that I began to realize what was really going on. The first few days at camp, and all the countless times in my life, I made it about me, about what God could do for me. Never did I stop to think what I could do for Him, or why I didn’t need Him to do anything for me.
In the gospel of Mark, Jesus performs many miracles, and yet, the disciples question his abilities, limit his powers, and for some strange reason, find it hard to trust Him. The frustration I had before started to gear towards the stupidity of the disciples. Why was it that, even though they witnessed Jesus perform all these miraculous signs, they still needed something more? When I actually took time to ask myself this, the tables turned, and the question was not of the disciples faith, but my own. The very motive of me going to Markwest was to have God do something for me. I wanted something more than what he had already given me, and a lot of times, that’s exactly what it is. We always want more. When God allowed me to realize this, it was like he slapped me right across the face. All these years that I expected God to speak to me, reveal Himself to me, and to give me all the answers, he had already given me the solution to it all.
The gospel is such a beautiful thing, and although it might be scary accepting it, it is the only thing that we need to depend on. The very fact that He sent his son to be the ultimate payment for our sins so that we could be free in him and love him, should be all that is needed to give up everything we hold onto and trust him. Yes, Jesus was resurrected three days later, but have you stopped to really, and I mean really, think of the pain he and the Father went through? God has done something amazing for us, something that nothing of this world can even replace, so how long will it take for you and I to stop expecting more from Him, and realize He has already met our expectations, and will continue to?
Praise the Lord for the revelation and for the time for you could retreat, listen, look to God and look within.
Being raised up in a consumer culture, with the mentality of choice and getting what we want when we want, we sometimes treat God as a vending machine, that if we push all the right buttons (pray, fast, read scripture, devotions, go to church) God must give what we want to us. But we can’t think like that, God is sovereign, His plans are always greater than ours. He is a generous but wise provider who gives us what we need according to His divine plan and timing so that we may grow closer to him in the process. I thank God for your testimony, Freeman.