exposed expectations

Who is like God? “No one!” I shout without hesitation. I’m smart enough to know the right answer to a question like that. So then let me rephrase it.

Who do I expect to be like God? 

And that’s the question that makes my heart start to squirm.

Before I go on, let me just say something up front. I intensely dislike this business of “being honest with myself”. But I’ve learned two things concerning this annoying process:  First, God is ruthless when it comes to exposing the things that keep me from changing. He’s not put off by my squirming, my whining or by my obvious attempts to avoid this process. He just keeps coming. Second, it brings revival. At the end of the process, my heart is changed, something has been healed, and my love and knowledge of God have had a sweet explosion. So I’ve learned to say “yes” to something I’d rather say “no thank you” to, which actually brings up a third bit of learning…

My “yes” to God, even in the hard things, will always be worth it.

So let me go back to the question. “Who do I expect to be like God?” To find out, I need to recall a few things I know to be true of God. The scripture references I will list is not by any means exhaustive. The questions I ask are the process I go through in allowing God to expose my heart.

His is an unfailing love. (Ps. 13:5; Ps. 33:18; Is. 54:10)

In my humble estimation, every slight we feel, every offense, every rejection, every betrayal is, at its core, a love that has failed. Who has failed to love me? Spouse? Children? Parents? Friends? The Church? Has it brought an offense that I just cannot get past, unforgiveness that I can’t turn into forgiveness? Has it made me run away and hide? Has it hardened my heart?

The answer is yes..to all of it. The unmet expectation of an unfailing love from people has been a set-up for my heart, and my heart responded accordingly. The damage was great, both to me and to others.

When the scriptures speak of unfailing love, they always point to God, never to man.  My head knows it, but my heart has a bad memory. It still looks to be loved no matter what, by people who are not like God. In all of my unlovliness, my unfaithfulness, my selfishness and my all together unlovableness, God will not fail to love me. People will. I want that to be ok with me.

He is my Healer and my Deliverer. (Ps. 103:3; Ps. 147:3; The Gospels; 2Samuel 22:2; Ps. 40:17; Ps. 70:5)

Where is the first place I turn when I need healing, whether it’s physical, mental, emotional or spiritual healing? Where do I go when there is something I just can’t get past…a wound, an offense, a sinful habit? In my early days of faith, I went to people. Lots of them. And I would love to say that today I no longer place my expectations on other people to bring me healing, or deliverance. But one look around my house at the stacks of books and cds I have bought tell a different story.

stack_of_books-300x199Deliverance and inner-healing ministries; Christian counselors and psychologists; schools of healing; books galore. Most of these resources that the Church has access to are good and very helpful.  But this is what I have observed in the Church lately – “Oh, you’re struggling? Here, you need to read this book. It’s amazing.” Or, “you need to go see so-and-so”. It’s like watching the Church on auto-pilot, sending the sick and wounded to people, rather than sending them to Jesus. Is it intentional? I don’t believe so, but none the less, it has set people up with expectations that will often bring disappointment, because we are frail and weak, and we succumb to the temptation to expect others to be like God for us.

I was recently speaking to a woman who called me for help with her marriage. Near the end of our conversation, I felt overwhelmed by what she was dealing with, and do you know what I said to her? “I think you need professional help”!! Yes. I said that, all the while knowing that the Word of God held her answer.  The Body of Christ is well equipped to help people, because we know Christ, we know His Word and we (should) know His power. But we are not their healers or their deliverers. I believe we need to get back to telling people that their help is in Jesus…not in a book, not in a ministry, not in a pastor…in Jesus.

No one heals like God. No one delivers like God. He must be the first place I go in my time of need. And because God so often works through His Body, He may choose to have me go to His Body to get counsel, but I am to go knowing that the power to heal and deliver is found only in God.

He alone is sinless. (Hebrews 4:15; 1John 1:8)

This one took some digging, but one thing I can count on is that God will dig until He finds what He wants me to see. What takes place in my heart when someone has the so-called “fall from grace” (a term I do  not like, nor agree with)? What does my heart feel when I find out that a Church leader, or the person I looked up to,  has been caught in adultery, pornography, or an addiction? Do I become a little jaded? Do I lose faith in people, or worse yet, in Christianity? Does my heart become fearful, thinking that if it can happen to them, then what’s to become of the rest of us? Do I lose respect? Is it all because I have an expectation that Christians, especially those in leadership or in public ministry, should be like God? I would not have thought so, but now I’m not so sure. Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, Ted Haggard, Richard Roberts (son of Oral Roberts)…the list goes on, even down to one of my own former pastors. At the sound of their fall from the pedestal they were on, my heart felt disappointment, and the more it happens, the more hopelessness creeps in. Not grace, not mercy, not prayer nor indignation at the enemy’s schemes…disappointment, anger, hopelessness and even fear. Why? Apparently because people who were not supposed to sin did what they weren’t supposed to do. They failed to be like God. And I excelled in my sinful response.

An exposed heart is a crazy kind of scary. But I firmly believe that if I am willing to expose mine, it will help you have the courage to expose yours. To yourself. To God. To allow Him to be ruthless in going after the things that keep you from knowing Him more, from going deeper with Him, and then deeper still.

“With whom, then, will you compare God?
To what image will you liken Him?”

““To whom will you compare Me?
Or who is My equal?” says the Holy One.” Isaiah 40:18, 25

Father, forgive me for ascribing to others the love, power and perfection that is found in You alone. Help me to gather all of the expectations of my heart and lay them only at Your feet, not the feet of another. For I know that You alone are God, and there is none like You. You, my God and my King, are beyond compare.

5 thoughts on “exposed expectations

  1. This is so well written and thought-provoking. It is disheartening to see religious leaders fall down – Catholic priests in particular, for me. I remind myself that while our earthly Church tries to be of God, it is made up of frail, imperfect human beings. Like me. That we fall, and have to pick ourselves back up and try again.

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    • Thank you! On the one hand, I do think we should be able to expect a certain level of integrity from those in leadership and/or public ministry. But on the other hand, I have seen people walk away from the Church and their faith because of the disappointment in seeing the humanity of leaders. That’s when I believe we have placed expectations upon people that they cannot possibly live up to, i.e….to be “like God”. Thanks for reading, and for your comment!

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  2. “Who do I expect to be like God?” Very good question. The easy answers is “people who are not, lots of people who are not.” It’s funny how we can forget to go back to the answer to your first question when deciding what we expect from others. Thanks for getting me thinking. God and I are going to have to have a talk about this one. Peace, Linda

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  3. you talking to ME? (as I look in the mirror and I don’t see Robert Deniro looking back) FYI. I happen to love the books you give to me… I think this one was written by you, but could very easily have been meant for me. (how full of myself is that?) Excellent is all I can say, oh, and thank you.

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