November 1, 2012
Raising Your Expectations
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full,” (John 10:10 NIV).
Friend to Friend
When I was in my early twenties, I did not have great expectations for what my marriage would be like, if I ever walked the aisle at all. My parents had a tumultuous relationship from my earliest remembrance. Cycles of heated arguments and physical violence followed by silence and passive aggression were as predictable as the seasons. The atmosphere in our home was tense. It was as if I lived on an earthquake fault line, never knowing when the “big one” was going to hit. There were many “big ones.”
I became a Christian when I was fourteen and resolved that if I ever got married, it would be to a man who loved Jesus with all his heart. Through the years, I dated many Christian young men. In my young mind, most of them were not very much fun.
So I had a conversation with God that went something like this: “OK God, if I ever get married, it will be to a Christian man. I’m committed to that. I won’t give a guy a second glance unless he is a man who loves You with all his heart. It is not enough for him to say that he is a Christian. I want to see it in the way he lives his life, the way he uses his words, and the way he relates to other people. I’m going to pay attention to what he laughs at, what he watches on television, and how he handles anger. I know what I’m asking here. I know what I’m getting into. I realize that I most likely won’t feel very passionate about this guy. I know that my life will probably be rather dull, boring, and lackluster. But that’s OK. I’m holding out for a Christian man, no matter how humdrum and ho-hum he may be. If I like him pretty well, that’s enough for me.”
Oh my goodness! Talk about low expectations! I’m sure God got a big kick out of my request.
Here’s what happened several years after that “prayer.” When I was twenty-two, I returned to college to further my education. A young man from my hometown had a Bible study at his apartment and invited me to attend. When I walked in, I saw a young dental student sitting cross-legged on the floor and leaning up against the wall. His dark chocolate eyes looked up at me as he said, “Hi.” I melted in a puddle.
After a few weeks, Steve finally asked me out on a date. But the venue of our rendezvous confirmed what I had expected all along.
“There is a missionary from Jackson, Mississippi speaking over at Murphy Hall,” he explained. “I’d like to go hear him. Would you like to go with me?”
Well that certainly lined up with my expectations! Steve was handsome; no doubt about that. He was a Christian, that was for sure. But going to hear a missionary on our first date? He was going to be boring after all. But hey, what did I expect? (Now remember, I was young. I love missionaries! I am one! Just keeping it real.)
When he came to pick me up for our date, I wasn’t quite ready. My apartment mate welcomed him and directed him to the sofa to wait. While he perused the scattered magazines on the coffee table, some of my favorite music played on the stereo. In the South, we call it beach music. It’s a type of 60s R&B Motown music.
When I finally emerged from my primping, Steve looked up and asked, “Do you like that kind of music?”
“Sure do,” I replied. (I must say I said it with an attitude of “and you gotta problem with that?”)
“I do too,” Steve said. “I have an entire collection. Do you know how to Shag (a traditional Southern dance similar to a slow version of the Swing)?
I think I heard God laugh.
“I’ve been dancing the Shag since I was in the fifth grade,” I said.
“Let’s see if we do it the same way,” he said as he grabbed my hand.
For twenty minutes, we separated and came together as if we had been dancing together all our lives. He held my hand up and I spun under. He pulled me in and then rolled me out like a scroll. His shuffle kick mirrored my own.
You know what? We did go and hear the missionary on that crisp fall night in 1979. And afterwards, we went to a favorite college hangout on the Campus of UNC the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and danced until the doors closed. We had fun, and we haven’t stopped having fun yet. We have grown in God’s grace, and we’ve graced the dance floor. Steve is the mostfunnest guy I have ever known, and he loves the Lord with all his heart. And to think I actually was ready to settle for a just a nice Christian guy. God exceeded my expectations beyond all I ever could have asked or imagined.
But this isn’t just about my love story with Steve. It is about my love story with Jesus. It is about yours too. And like my silly twenty-something prayer for a mediocre-but-nice husband, I fear we have lowered our expectations in our relationship with God. He longs for an intimacy with us that ushers in a deep abiding joy, but I’m afraid we’ve settled for simply nice.
Are you ready to raise your expectations in your relationship with Jesus? Oh sister, He got so much to show you, to tell you, to share with you. Don’t settle for “just nice.” Jesus is much more exciting than that!
Dear Jesus, forgive me for having such low expectations in our relationship. I know that You came to give me abundant life, not a so-so life. Today, I’m raising my expectations of life to line up with Your word. I’m expecting the abundant life that You came to give!
In Your Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Look up Zephaniah 3:17 and enjoy!
God wants you to enjoy Him today! Look for moments of sudden glory where he makes His presence known and then tell me about it. Log onto www.sharonjaynes.com; look for this post on my home page, and tell me how you experienced God TODAY!.
More from the Girlfriends
My new book, A Sudden Glory: God’s Lavish Response to Your Ache for Something More, is all about raising your expectations to experience the full, abundant life that Jesus came to give. If you’ve settle for a ho-hum, so-so, Christian life, it is time to start enjoying the abundant life Jesus came to give. God wants you to experience His presence every day through moments of sudden glory where He makes His presence known. Ready to get started? Download a free sample chapter or watch the videos on my website!
Click here to learn more about hosting a Girlfriends in God conference in your area or having one of the GiGs speak at your next women's event.
Originally published Thursday, 01 November 2012.