Lemons Again?

Life does not always turn out the way we expect, and those unmet expectations can leave us feeling pretty rotten.  I was reminded of this truth on two separate occasions last week.  Yes, twice in one week, life bombarded me with lemons, and did I mention that I hate lemonade?

It all began when the new bedspread I'd ordered arrived in the mail.  It wasn't anything special.  I wanted a simple, inexpensive blanket to place on our bed during the summer months when our hand-made quilt was simply too much.  So, I went on eBay, found a great deal and ordered a rust-colored blanket.  However, what showed up at my door and what was pictured on the website were two entirely different colors.  I ordered rust, and the picture showed what I expected.  The blanket that arrived, though, was Clemson orange.  I'm talking a bright orange that would put Tigger to shame.  In fact, Tigger is exactly what I think of every time I enter my bedroom and am blinded by the bright orange blanket.  Oh, and by the way, the label on the bedspread did read "rust."  Hmm!

My second dashed expectation took place on Sunday morning, the day we celebrated our pastor's 23rd anniversary at our church.  We typically try to do up the day big!  Commemorative plaque.  Gift.  Dinner on the grounds.  And, of course, a video presentation of which I'm usually in charge.  Any of you who have ever done video presentations understand that they take hours to put together.  Finding all the right pictures and music.  Timing everything just so.  Adding in transitions and text.  It is a long, tedious process.  Nevertheless, the Lord helped me to pull everything together in time, and the finished result was fantastic.  At least, it was fantastic on my computer at home.  However, on Sunday morning, when we played the video for all to see, something went horribly wrong.  It seems the computer was having a difficult time keeping up with the load of the presentation, so the entire thing was choppy and jumpy.  The project that I had spent hours on looked like a 5-year-old had put it together. Not only was I embarrassed, but I was downright frustrated that my hours of hard work had turned out to be such a mess.

See what I mean?  We cannot count on our expectations being met.  I anticipated a rust-colored blanket and received bright orange instead.  I expected my hard work on the video presentation to shine through, but instead it flopped.  Why does life keep handing us lemons?  Well, we discussed that a bit in yesterday's post, so I'm not going to go into that again.  Instead, I want to address our response to unmet expectations.

Let's face it, if we're not careful, our unmet expectations can leave us angry and bitter, especially when they seem to pile up on us.  They can leave us doubting that God cares.  They can lead us to search for other answers to life's problems or to seek comfort outside of the arms of our loving Savior.  In short, they can ruin our lives if we'll allow them to.  So, how do we keep that from happening?  What is the best way to respond to unmet expectations?

With praise.  Whoa, I just saw some of you do a double-take.  No, I haven't lost my mind.  Instead, I've put on the mind of Christ as instructed in Philippians 2:5: Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.  What does that mean exactly?  It means stepping outside of my own thoughts, ambitions and expectations and trying to see things through the eyes of God.  It means taking a moment to reflect on God and everything I know about Him.  For example, God is always right and just.  God does all things for His glory and our good.  I allow Romans 8:28 and Jeremiah 29:11 to wash over me with their promises that God is watching out for me.  And with these things in view, I can rest in the knowledge that it was best for me that things turned out the way they did, and I can rejoice that God is in control.

Some of you may be thinking, how could it possibly matter one way or another if I received a rust-colored blanket or a bright orange one?  I don't know, but perhaps only for the sake of giving me something to write about this morning.  God is in the details, you know.  My point is that we don't have to fall apart when life doesn't turn out the way we plan.  Instead, we can rejoice in knowing that God is working all things the way they need to be.  He's giving us His best.  So, let's start expecting that out of life, and we'll never be disappointed.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. - Jeremiah 29:11