If you pay any attention to what I do in my free time, you’ll notice that I go to a lot of concerts. By the end of this month, I will have been to nine concerts in the past year. I enjoy the excitement of seeing a band or artist I like/love live and being surrounded by other people who like them as well. (For those of you who don’t know, I tend to be an avid fan of musicians that few or none of my friends listen to.)
When Alan talked about his experience of feeling underwhelmed after attending a Prince concert, I could see where he was coming from. I don’t recall ever being bummed out about a concert, but I have been left disappointed by other things I’ve looked forward to.
Some of you may have noticed that I wasn’t at the Good Friday service last week, and that is because I was in Carrboro at the Cat’s Cradle seeing New Found Glory live. I’ve liked NFG since I was about 12, so for about 11 years now. I didn’t really have any sort of expectations other than that I would enjoy it. I can honestly say that it is one of the best shows I have seen in months. I’d have to say it’s in my top five favorite concerts out of the many I’ve attended over the years. The energy was so high and infectious. There was such a mutual appreciation and adoration between the band and the crowd. And they played a lot of songs I love. In short, it was phenomenal.
If the show had been horrible, if the dudes in the band were jerks or if they had terrible stage presence, I would have been heartbroken. My expectations, years in the making, wouldn’t have been met.
As Alan said Sunday, expectations dictate our experiences.
In Mark 16, we see Mary Magdalene and Jesus’s mom heading to Jesus’s tomb. They were expecting no living person to be in or visiting the tomb, and they were certainly expecting Jesus to be laying there dead. You can imagine how shocked and scared they were to see no Jesus, but a guy inside the tomb telling them Jesus had risen and telling them to run and tell Jesus’s disciples this excellent news.
If people listened to Jesus, it would save them a lot of trouble. Jesus had told his group of followers that He would rise after His death, and either they didn’t hear Him or they didn’t believe Him. If Mary and Mary had walked into the tomb remembering and holding onto those words that Jesus spoke, they wouldn’t have been terrified. They would’ve done a happy dance the whole way there and back. Their expectations would’ve changed everything.
But that would’ve gone against everything that happened to Jesus during His life. He was surrounded by unbelievers everywhere He went, and He wasn’t by any means what anyone expected Him to be.
The people were expecting a Messiah who would ride in on a horse, accompanied by an army, and save them from the Romans. What they got was a Messiah who mingled with the scum of the earth – tax collectors and unlearned fishermen – and who didn’t appear to want to launch any sort of attack on the Romans at all.
They were expecting a man who would physically save them from their troubles. What they got was a man who was capable of doing that and saving their souls from a hell far greater than they had ever experienced.
They were expecting a man who was bold and brave at every turn, a man who would challenge those who needed to be challenged. What they got was a man who was bold and passionate, but also loving and compassionate. And the people that the general population felt should be challenged weren’t the same ones Jesus did.
No, Jesus didn’t exactly fit the mold people had made for Him. He wasn’t the sort of Savior everyone thought He was going to be. Because of that, most of them thought He was less of a King and more of a letdown. If they’d opened up their eyes, they would’ve seen that He was so much more instead of so much less.
But let’s not be so quick to pick up our stones to throw at the people of Jesus’s day. After all, we’re often just as bad as they were.
We lose faith because things don’t turn out how we want them to. We expect Jesus to do a miracle for us on our time, not His. We expect Him to get us out of hard times instead of helping us get through them. We want Him to be one way (with us, it’s usually gentle and loving) and are appalled and maybe even hurt when He’s any other way (angry, strict, etc.). We even played a part in hanging Him on the cross. No, we didn’t nail Him to it or jeer at Him from below it, but He was up there because of us.
We have a neat little box to put God in, and we get upset when He doesn’t fit in it or meet our expectations.
Here’s a crazy thought: What if we tried changing our expectations instead of trying to change God?
What if we accepted Him as He is? Powerful and mighty, yet caring and personable. The Creator of everything that exists, yet the One who knows everything about us. The God who never changes, yet the God who never leaves. The God who corrects us and punishes us when we need it, yet the God who loved us enough to send His son to die for us.
Expectations are tricky. They can either make everything better or make everything worse. I wish I had wisdom to impart on how to deal with them or control them, but I don’t. They’re just a part of life.
But I can tell you to always expect great things from God. It’s in His nature and in His plans. If Miss Magdalene and Jesus’s mom had gone into the tomb expecting Jesus to be gone, they wouldn’t have been shocked or scared, they would’ve been elated. God gives us the opportunity to be elated all the time when we hold onto Him and His word. Expectations might be risky with everything else, but they never are with God.
By Carrie Prevette
P.S. – I would like to clarify something that a dear friend brought to my attention Sunday because I sort of feel like my good name is on the line here. For those of you who read the last blog post, you’ll recall that one of the things I dislike about Easter is how formal it seems because I feel like I have to dress up. And those of you who saw me dressed up Sunday might be a little perplexed. Here’s the deal. I don’t have a problem with dressing up if I want to. (If you’ll recall in the last post, I said dressing up was “alright.”) However, I don’t like dressing up because it’s expected of me by everyone for no real reason. The only thing that wouldn’t really follow this line of thought is if I was ever invited to attend an awards show like the Grammys or the Oscars, which I would gladly get dolled up for, but I doubt that will ever happen. So yeah, sorry for any confusion I may have caused.