When you close your eyes and think about God, what does his face look like?
A little peeved and irritable, like this?
Or, kinda disappointed and disinterested--but still blessing you, because that's what God is supposed to do?
What if I told you that you have *never* disappointed God?
Yep. I don't believe that God has ever been disappointed--not once. Never. Ever.
Why? Because disappointment has to do with expectations, and God has completely realistic expectations of us.
A coworker and I were discussing whether it was better to have high expectations of the people around you or low expectations of them. On one hand, some people rise to high expectations placed before them. On the other hand, having low expectations means that you're not constantly disappointed when people inevitably fail to fulfill their responsibilities.
Here's the thing--God has completely realistic expectations of what we'll do, but that's not what drives him to pursue us. Yes, God has expectations for us, but that's not all.
God has dreams for us.
There is a difference between expectations and dreams. Expectations rightly held are based in an assessment of what someone can realistically do. But dreams? Dreams are what God made us for--the things he prepared in advance for us to do, as his workmanship (Ephesians 2:10).
My youngest child, Elizabeth, has just learned to crawl. She also loves trying to pull herself up on the furniture, wanting to get in the action of her three older siblings. While she is my earliest crawler, and will likely be the earliest walker of the four Becklings, I have absolutely no doubt that as she learns to walk, she will fall. There will be tears. She will hurt herself. There will probably be cuts and bruises and bumps on her head.
When she is learning to walk, I expect her to fall. I don't yell at her or get mad or disappointed. I am excited to cheer her on, even through her mistakes, because I know that walking is something Elizabeth Beck was created to do. As Elizabeth and her siblings grow, my husband and I are trying to have completely realistic expectations of our kids, so that we don't find ourselves feeling the sting of disappointment. Yes, our kids can hurt our feelings (and our physical bodies....teeth...nails...), they can make us mad, and they can frustrate us beyond words. But I don't want to communicate disappointment to them, because when I am disappointed in my kids, it's because my hope is in the wrong place.
The prophet Isaiah writes that "those who hope in the Lord will not be disappointed" (49:23 NIV). When I am disappointed, it's a result of misplaced hope. I have to have realistic expectations of the people around me--and of myself--and that means not putting my hope in the words, actions, or feelings of others. That doesn't mean I don't ever feel disappointment anymore--sure, I do. But instead of getting mad or sad or hurt and letting disappointment ruin my life or my relationship with my loved ones, I let those feelings of disappointment serve as a diagnostic tool for where my hope has been hanging out.
Feeling like you've disappointed someone sucks, amirite?
We are human. We screw up. Sometimes it's unintentional--we lack wisdom and make dumb decisions. Sometimes we intentionally choose what we know isn't God's plan for us. But when we get it wrong, we have to think about it from God's perspective. He doesn't require perfection. He asks us for three things: to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with him (Micah 6:8).
I used to constantly feel like I had disappointed God, and that when I came to him I had to have a laundry list of how I was going to do better. But that's not what he wants from me. He wants affection. He wants time. He wants a willing heart--all things that I love to receive from my children.
Now, when I think of God, I don't think of those somber, disappointed, and perturbed faces. I think of a father excited to get some face time with his child.
Yes, the dreams of God for his children always include an honest assessment of their individual gifts and abilities. But along with God's completely realistic expectations of our limited human nature is his complete confidence in the power of his love to carry out the good work he has begun in us until it's done.
You, my friend, have *never* *ever* disappointed God.
Will you ask him what dreams he has for you?
Know this: you will stumble and trip but you can hold his hand on the journey.