Where am I? Fear Sad Lonely Hurt Anger
As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." Luke 3:15,16
What John the Baptist does here is so counter to my experience. When someone has the courage to express what they hope for, we are often quick to lower their expectations in an attempt to minimize the sadness, fear, loneliness, and hurt we fear will result if that hope is not realized. We encourage realistic thinking with admonitions like, “Don’t get your hopes up!"
John the Baptist didn't seek to lower anyone's expectations. He did the opposite, he raised them. John said to a group of people already “filled with expectation,” that someone is coming who will exceed all they dared to hope for.
It takes courage to admit what you want. I asked myself, Jeff, what expectations (hopes) are you “filled with?”
The answer came quickly – so quickly it surprised me - as if I had thought a lot about this question before. Consciously, I had not, but subconsciously, I must have because the words flowed from my pen.
What hopes am I filled with?
“That my life would be good.”
But what does that mean?
“I want a life rich with friends (a few) and a worthy mission that I am good at where I can love and care for my family as I whole heartedly give myself over to God and to my calling.”
That one sentence says a lot. It's also something I've hoped for as long as I can remember: A few friends. A worthy mission to do together. Bringing my whole heart to my life and my calling. To know I am good at something. Able to love and care for my family.
A few verses later in Luke 3:21.22 it says, Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, Heaven was opened up, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.”
If the voice of God the Father spoke from Heaven to me, what would I like to hear about myself? What would I dare hope that voice would say to me?
This answer also came quickly:
- I am not ashamed of you.
- I have not grown weary of you.
- You are not an inconvenience to me.
- I will not tire of your company.
As I stared at the words in front of me, I could not help but notice the “nots.” What would the positive side of these statements sound like?
- You are special to me.
- I delight in you.
- My loyalty to you has no limits.
I don't believe God wants me to lower my expectations. When my hope is in Him, who He is exceeds anything I can hope for.
Secondly, when what I hope for in this life is not fully realized in this life, God will give me healing for my hurt, faith for my fear, intimacy for my loneliness, and comfort for my sadness.
And that voice from Heaven? There is a reason Romans 8:31-39 is a well worn page in my Bible.