Not too long ago I went to one of our local restaurants with a friend of mine, and we were sitting there perusing the menu, and I, being the weight-conscious soul that I am, decided to splurge and order a “Belgian Waffle!” Now I don’t know about you, but my expectation of a Belgian Waffle is as pictured in the menu – a traditional waffle smothered with strawberries or some other fruit and topped off with a small mountain of whipped cream, perhaps with even a cherry on top!
That is what I was expecting to receive when I ordered a Belgian waffle that night in the restaurant. But that is not what I received. Instead, I received just a plain waffle with some butter and a small vial of maple syrup to go with it! Wow! Was I ever disappointed!
Now I know all those calorie counters and exercise hounds out there are saying that it serves me right, but I was expecting a fairly loaded waffle to be placed in front of me to be sumptuously devoured as a wonderful culinary delight to my most needy taste buds.
I believe that incident is a parable of the way that we often look at life. We come into each day with certain expectations, and when they are not fulfilled, we get mad at God, and often reject Him and His benevolent activity on our behalf
Expectations. Preconceived expectations. They are a dangerous thing, aren’t they? Especially when they go unfulfilled. Sometimes they cause us to reject something without even giving it a chance. We do that with food in restaurants, with clothes in shopping malls, and even with people in various encounters and interpersonal situations. And yes, all too often it happens even in churches. We walk through the doors of a church, thinking it will be a certain activity in a certain style of worship, and when it is not, we categorically reject the whole experience as either outdated and old-fashioned, or too modernistic and failing to adhere to biblical mandates.
You know, there were a couple of sisters in the New Testament, good friends of Jesus who demonstrated some very similar attitudes as these expectations. In one encounter, ironically, also involving food, a young lady named Martha was complaining because her sister Mary was too involved in listening to Jesus and in talking with Him. Martha, like the impeccable hostess she strived to be, was upset that Mary was more concerned about Jesus than she was about the food. Martha had some preconceived expectations about that special dinner they were serving that evening, and when her sister did not fulfill those expectations, interestingly she did not complain to her sister, but rather to their dinner guest. And when she complained to Him, Jesus gently encouraged her to get her priorities in order. (See Luke 10:38-42)
Later on, when the brother of these two sisters died, they both were so convinced that he would not have died if Jesus had been there. Jesus then performed a miracle and raised Lazarus from the dead. In doing so, he proclaimed that His intent all along would be that they see the glory of God. (Check out John 11:17-44).
As I read these two stories over again, one question hit me right between the eyes: Are my priorities in line with God’s priorities? To be frank, I must admit they are not. Oftentimes, I come to God with expectations. I expect Him to provide, to heal, and to triumph over evil in my lifetime. In some ways, I expect Him to mend fences with neighbors, to resolve conflicts with family, to supply super-abundantly in terms of my financial needs. While I must tell you that God DOES all those things, it is also important to understand that He does them in HIS timing, not mine. He does them when HE will get the most glory for them, and not me.
So it may seem like my expectations go unmet and unsatisfied by a begrudging God. But in reality it is all just a sense of my understanding of His timing. God wants us to come to Him expecting not what we want, but expecting what He wants – in short, His glory to be seen!
When the waitress delivered a very plain and unadorned waffle to me when I had expected something else, I asked for some fruit topping. She brought it as requested, and I enjoyed my Belgian waffle! Not in my own timing, but it was a joy anyway! Oh, and by the way, I thanked her profusely for her service to me!
Anyone want a Belgian waffle?
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for this newspaper and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at [email protected].