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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Disappointments, Expectations and Worship

Sometimes plans change, or are changed and you get caught in the middle. Even when you think that you were following God’s direction, all of a sudden you find yourself in completely different circumstances than what you had expected or planned. Did you miss God’s will? Did God speak and you just miss hearing His voice? Did you do something that caused God to stop talking? I would not pretend to understand how the Father chooses to reveal Himself, but I do know that many times in Scripture there were men and women who were trusting and following God and the answers did not come as they expected.

Abraham believed God would send a son through Sarah, but years passed and nothing happened. It was not until he was 100 and she was 90, when everything looked hopeless, did God step in and work in a way that would bring Him the most glory. Moses led the people to the Red sea and realized that although he was following  God’s plan as best he knew, it looked hopeless until God worked. In fact, the 40 years in the desert was a time of learning that Jehovah  was God over deserts, food, water, enemies and every situation they would encounter.  God chose not to fulfill the human expectation, but bring glory to His holy name.

Naaman, the pagan general, before Elisha is another wonderful example of misguided expectation. When the prophet told him to go and wash, he said, “I thought he would come out and wave his hand over the spot and say some words and make me clean, and all he says is go wash in a muddy river?”  Thankfully one of the general’s servants convinced him to obey and his response is one of worship to God alone.

To the disciples the greatest disappointment was the cross. Three and a half years of seeing the unbelievable, seeing even the dead raised to life must have made the disciples believe that Jesus was invincible. They must have felt that their position and power because of Him was secure.  ... And then there was the cross. I’m sure they passed those two nights without sleep in grief and vain attempts to figure out what had happened. Had they been deceived? When Jesus appeared to the after three days the depth of their despair turn into the heights of rejoicing. Indeed the risen Christ was Lord of all, their preconceived expectations melted as they watched him eat the fish and explain the Scripture, passages they knew, but did not understand.  Disappointments, failed expectations, all can cause us great anguish.

What about worship? I am not saying that sin will not block our understanding of God’s will or hearing His voice. But sometimes the way God teaches us to trust Him is in the silence of obedience in unfulfilled expectation. We walk into a worship service, having confessed our sins, claimed the love and forgiveness of the Father, thanked Him for such grace and mercy and expected an incredible experience of worship, only to hear ...nothing......just silence. Our expectation might have led us to believe that we would feel something “extra” today or there would something quite special and unique about the service and nothing happened.  Yes, we need to check to see if there is something wrong, but this just might also be a time of silence that we must stand in obedience and worship with only the assurance that God is Who He says He is and will do what He says He will do. 

The measure of our worship is not based on our expectations, but the assurance of God’s nature and character. My thoughts, feelings, emotions change like the tides of the sea, but God never changes. Our worship is not dependent on the feelings that can be generated in response to a sermon or song, but on the obedient response to the revelation of God’s nature and character.  Let’s give Him our expectations, our disappointments, and bow in worship, even if it’s in silence.

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