If you open your eyes and see this — RUN!
Don’t think. Don’t rationalize. Just get out of there as quickly as your legs can carry you because you are in trouble, my friend!
It was a cool autumn day at the park. I remember our middle son asking if I’d like to play Batman with him. Naively, I said…“Sure!” And in that moment, anything was possible. I expected to be someone mega- cool like Robin, or better still, Batman’s girl side-kick — Batgirl! I had all of these grand thoughts about what ninja moves I’d use, how I’d defy gravity with my super-charged Batgirl jumps and how together, we’d overtake the bad guys with a single kick. I was elated! I had it all planned out for Mom the super-hero: my perfect role.
But that’s where the expectation died.
Not only did I find out that I was the bad guy in this plot (enter the Joker), but I learned very quickly that “playing Batman” to a three year-old loosely translates to “knocking Mommy down and poking her with sticks“. I snapped a pic. for evidence (in case this was the Joker’s final stand), then closed my eyes to make sure I didn’t get a stick to the cornea. Then I opened them again, cautiously squinting, praying I couldn’t be right. This isn’t the way things were supposed to go! I had it all mapped out. I had a plan, for goodness sake! So, how could this be happening?
In Matthew 16:21-28, Jesus tells the disciples the news that not only will their Lord die, but that every expectation they had about the way things should go was about to be obliterated. It was a Batman/Batgirl moment if ever there was one. How could this happen? They’d put all their hopes in one place – in Him. Everything had changed and because of it, they were officially in trouble.
I get caught up thinking about the emotions of the disciples when I read this passage. What must have been going through their minds? This was the King! The Messiah! They’d given up everything to follow Him. He was going to save their people, wasn’t he? How could he do that if he was dead?
Peter spoke up, as he always did, and made the classic maneuver of putting his foot in his mouth. (Don’t we always do that with God? We think we know better.) He stood up to make a correction to God’s plan. And as is required, he was reminded just how limited our thoughts can be. Yes, Jesus died. But He rose again. And redeemed. He saved. Came back. Encouraged. And loved every single one of us.
I’m editing my second book these days…
The process is not exactly what I expected — but in a good way. It’s reminded me that my expectations will always be exceeded by His. I may think I know what is “supposed” to happen at the end of a journey, but His wisdom and strength in the process are what I must rely on.
I share a photo with you today.
It was taken by a friend who just returned from a mission trip in Poland. She took this book that I’d dreamed about for more than 10 years – the one where I’d hoped to give a voice to the lost artists of the Holocaust – and she blew my expectations out of the water. My expectation had been to see it on a store shelf one day — not to see it actually laid on the tracks at Auschwitz. (See how God worked that out?)
Expectations can get us in trouble if we rely on anything in our own strength. I for one am basking in the glow of my many weaknesses today. Why? My expectations are limited. But His? They’re infinite.
So you may be wondering… What happened with the Batman game at the park? Well, you can probably guess that it was a teaching moment for me and a learning moment for our son. (He now understands why it’s not nice to poke people with sticks.) But I walked away from that experience with a smile and a memory — which far outweighed my initial expectation. I walked away better because God used that moment as a reminder that trouble is never what it may seem — not when He is in control of the outcome.