Expectations are an interesting part of life. We tend to expect things to go a certain way. We want a holiday like New Year’s Eve to be extravagant and exciting, but it often falls short. Sometimes we set expectations that are far out of reach. Some of us have certain expectations for a particular life stage. We want to be married, have kids or own a house by a certain age. Many times, these expectations are met with a much different reality. Many of us have an expectation of what a good family might look like as well. We picture our beautiful 2.5 year old child sitting around the perfectly set dinner table, discussing their wonderful day over a delicious homemade meal. In my world, we have two under two and our house is covered in crumbs. We’re chasing our little one because he grabbed a marker and suddenly became an Olympic athlete and runs quickly out of sight to put his John Hancock on another wall. There are smeared handprints of food that we don’t remember when that food was even served last. Some days my husband and I kiss on the cheek briefly as we run in different directions, all while dinner is slightly burning in the kitchen.
In some people’s world, one of the hardest things is when expectations are unmet and you are in a state of waiting. The desire, the hope, the waiting can make a season of life feel like an hourglass and each grain of sand falls one slow day at a time. Expectations versus reality are a humbling and sanctifying part of life.
One of the my favorite times of the year is Easter. I love spring coming, flowers blooming and the weather warming up. There is this sense of expectation for me when Easter is approaching. It is always a fun weekend filled with family and friends for us and Easter egg hunts. But more than that, it is a time to celebrate one of the biggest moments in Christian history…the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The life of Jesus was one of the greatest expectations in history that was not only met but far exceeded all expectations. The Jews in the world before Jesus was born were waiting on a Messiah, a Christ, one who would save them. This Messianic hope was written about many times in the Old Testament but one of my favorites is found in Zechariah 9:9, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
Many of the Jews expected a mighty warrior to save them from political strife and also to deliver them from persecution. However, Jesus never met their expectations in quite the way they thought things were going to happen. He was born into this world as a baby, grew up and started His ministry of teaching and healing in His 30s and called lowly fishermen to be His right hand men, His disciples. The week leading up to His death was a very important week, it was the Passover Celebration. Jesus entered into the city down the Mount of Olives. You would think the one who would come to save all would ride in on a mighty war horse and be surrounded by chariots, gold, and all the prestigious things. Jesus came in on a lowly donkey as people acknowledged that He was the Son of David, the Promised One, the One who had come to save them. Although, some did not connect the dots. I have a feeling that as He rode in on this donkey, a light went off in some people’s minds that He was fulfilling the verse in Zechariah 9:9. The King was coming to them and He was bringing salvation, humbly, to them. What a powerful moment in time!
I was privileged to get to visit Israel as a seminary student and actually walk down the Mount of Olives. During the trip, we visited these amazing places where Jesus had walked and taught around Galilee. Then, at the end of the trip we spent time in Jerusalem. As we walked down the same path Jesus rode the donkey, the excitement and expectation of that time was palpable. Jesus did not strive to meet the expectations of the people but instead of the Father. “God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God,” 1 Corinthians 1:28-29. God did not work in the ways that people expected but in far better ways. I am grateful that Jesus did not come to bring peace to the society at the time, but instead He came to bring peace to the heart of man and to rescue them.
As I have come to know the Lord better in my life, I am thankful that God is not confined to my expectations. I would have settled for what I thought was best but God had a much bigger plan in mind. He brought an amazing husband into my life and two messy little boys. We expected a lot of things to be a certain way, but God has shown us His faithfulness through the chaos. God intricately works in the lives of people to draw them closer to a relationship with Him. I am grateful that through the salvation of Jesus, my expectations were not met but will be exceeded into eternity.