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When Perfect Doesn’t Meet Your Expectations

Have you ever worked so hard towards a goal, reached that goal and realized this isn’t what I expected at all?  The goal you set, you thought the end result was so perfect, if you just achieve it, life will be perfect, joy will be in abundance and all things will be well in the universe?

If there is anything God continually teaches and shows me, it’s which side of humble and I sitting on.  And where am I placing my hope and expectations?

I am one who struggles with constantly trying to ‘perfect’ things and can drive myself crazy if I don’t allow God’s perspectives to lead me.  God is the ultimate perfecter who makes all things perfect, not me.  What he has is good enough not anything I can do with my own hands or strength.

If there is one common theme in the Old Testament that reveals God’s perfect plans, it’s his TIMING.  But I love how God sends messengers to confirm His plans, letting us know I am with you, I have not left you, trust in me and I will lead you into the greatest plans ever.

When Perfect Doesn’t Meet Your Expectations

Shattered dreams and broken expectations may leave us feeling lost, wondering ‘does God even care?’ or ‘what do I do now?’

Expectations.  We all have them.  Even the Israelites did.  They had an expectation God would deliver them from slavery out of Egypt into The Promised Land.  God promised he would, but His promise was taking a VERY long time, like 400+ years long.  And even when God came through with His promise of deliverance the Israelites waited another 40 years!

Towards the end of the 40 years, the Israelites come to the edge of The Promised Land waiting to enter, thinking, “This is it!  we’re here!”  Then God commissions Moses to send spies into The Promised Land to check it out, to see if the people who dwell there are strong or weak, whether they are few or many (Numbers 13:18).

When the spies returned they reported, “We came to the land to which you sent us.  It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit” (which is big by the way) (Numbers 14:27).  ‘But there’s a problem.  The people who dwell in the land are STRONG, the cities are LARGE, and anyone is our enemy or adversary lives there!’ (Numbers 14:28-29).

But then Caleb (the whole-hearted one and one of the spies), could see fear filling people’s hearts and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.”

Don’t you love his courage and confidence?  He’s basically saying, Let’s go!  We can do this!

The Israelites weren’t having it.  They rebelled and allowed their fear to dictate their response, and said, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness!  Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become prey.  Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” (Numbers 14:2-4) 

Wow! Really?  Go back to Egypt?  In other words, they’d rather go back through the wilderness, go back into captivity to be under the rule of Pharaoh in which God delivered them from so they didn’t have to go into The Promised Land and face their giants?

Did they forget what God was able to do?  He parted The Red Sea for them, protected and provided for them in the desert and delivered generations of people plus their cattle and belongings from one of the most powerful rulers that ever existed.

Did they think God wasn’t able to help them defeat their giants?

Then Joshua steps in (another spy), and says, “The land , which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land.  If the LORD delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey.  Only do not rebel against the LORD.  And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us.  Their protection is removed from them, and the LORD is with us;  do not fear them” (Num. 14:6-8).

I love how God uses Caleb and Joshua to speak into the situation at hand to put His plan into perspective.  He’s saying, it’s not about how big the giants are, it’s not how strong our adversaries are, it’s about how BIG our GOD is and what He’s able to do.  We don’t have to be afraid.  God has this!  His protection will be with us not them.

Why do you think the Israelites had to wander in the desert for 40 years to then face a battle in order to enter The Promised Land?

This was all apart of the process and God’s greater plan for his promise to be fulfilled in the fullest way possible.  Even though God PHYSICALLY delivered the Israelites from Egypt;  the captivity of Egypt was still in them.  The wilderness is where God SPIRITUALLY delivered them from Egypt.  Generations of Israelites lived four-hundred years of captivity, that’s a lot of oppression that was inbred in them.

What good would God’s plan be if he allowed a bunch of captives to live in The Promised Land?  They wouldn’t fully be living in His Promises He had to offer of true freedom, peace or joy.  

In order for victory to be a victory there must be a battle. God doesn't ask us to fight battles he isn't willing to fight with us. Click To Tweet

Our perfect expectations will never make any situation perfect, only God can.  Putting our own expectations on our situations, trying to do things our way, doesn’t allow for God’s greater plans to work within us.

Living in captivity will cost us.   Staying in places of brokenness will cost us our freedoms and joys in life every time.  We will never be able to live in The Promised Land, the way God intended, unless we allow Him to walk us through the battles we face to rid us of anything holding us back from living in His fullness.

The Israelites had an expectation The Promised Land would just be given to them.  Even though they didn’t want to face their giants and adversaries, God had a plan that was greater than they could have ever imagined if they just trusted in Him.

Have you ever been let down by your own expectations?

Has God ever asked you to fight a battle so you could be used for His greater plan?

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It’s Not About the TACO

Embracing God’s Purpose in Life’s Biggest Messes

Every week in our household our family has a tradition–TACO NIGHT!  If there is one meal we can count on every week, it’s tacos.  We always have the staples for making tacos in our house at any given time.  What I love about Taco Night, is our family sitting down eating the same meal together.

One particular Taco Night, we served the hard shells instead of flour tortillas.  We usually have all the toppings for our tacos on the table–sour cream, salsa, cheese.  One can put on their taco, whatever their heart’s desire.  Our son has a method to how his taco is made and the other sides arranged on his plate. Nothing on his plate can touch each other.

Have you ever watched a scene unfold in slow motion, knowing how it was going to turn out?  As our son lifted the taco to his mouth I could see and hear the taco shell crack and then fall apart spilling the contents onto his plate, which did I mention he doesn’t like other food touching each other?

As this scene unfolded I could see the melt-down process unravel.  He was upset and required a whole new plate and taco because doesn’t like to eat food that’s broken and messy.  If his food has one crack, one bite in it already, forget it he won’t eat it.  (Don’t judge we all have our quirks). There was no rationalizing with him, the food was perfectly fine, but in his mind, it had been ruined.

It’s Not About the TACO

The melt-down my son had nothing to do with the taco and everything to do with an inner struggle of wanting everything perfect and not dealing with the mess.  Our son focused on the broken, messy taco which kept him from enjoying the great meal before him.  The meal was going to taste the same whether it was messy or not.

That disappointment, that argument or disagreement you just had probably isn’t what you’re upset about at all.  The scenario of my son reminds me of the Israelites–an all too familiar pattern that has happened within all of us from the beginning of time.

The Israelites spent 430 years as slaves in Egypt under the rule of the ruthless and mean Pharaoh.  When God sent Moses to deliver them out of Egypt, they left with all of their cattle, their precious valuables and their families!  Which doesn’t happen!  Their exodus resonated God’s power all throughout the land of Egypt.

Little did they know they would be tested further by God by wandering in the desert.  It was hot and tiring traveling through the desert.  They were hungry and thirsty.  They whined and complained about their conditions which made God angry.

“The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat!  We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost–also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic”  Number 11:4-5

I get it.  Maybe tent-camping for 40 years in the desert wasn’t their thing.  They just wanted some good food, a flushing toilet, or a full-hookup camper with a hot shower.  Even though their immediate comforts were uncomfortable, they were missing the point of God’s purpose.  How soon did they forget they were just freed from 430 years of slavery!

The Israelites never went without provision of food, shelter, water or clothing.  They had everything they ever needed.  God wanted The Israelites to depend on Him for their daily bread, NOT MAN.  Instead, they focused only on what was before them to satisfy their souls instead of what God was able to provide for them–The Promised Land.

Sometimes I think our focus can get off.  We get lost in our problems, stumble on our inadequacies, caught up in our roadblocks, and caught up in our own desires.  We become like the Israelites entering into patterns of grumbling and complaining, losing sight of God’s purpose of what He’s able to do in our lives.  And before you know it, life becomes unbalanced and we fall apart.

What if that’s the point?  To discover God’s purpose for us within the mess?

Our struggles, inadequacies, and roadblocks will always get in the way of God’s purpose and plan for us.  But what if we embraced God’s purpose among the mess?

'And we know in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose' Romans 8:28Click To Tweet

I guarantee there will always be another mess.  When we embrace God’s purpose, we can stop using our messes and struggles as an excuse to hold us back, but allow our mess to be God’s platform in what He’s able to do in us. Just like the whole taco fiasco with my son, we too miss out on life’s biggest blessings when we allow our struggles to hold us back.  God will use our struggles as a catalyst for his greater plan.  We don’t have to worry about how everything will work out, He’s got it all within His grip.

Let’s Taco About it:  

What’s your one thing getting in the way of God?

Do you sometimes fall apart?

How can you embrace God’s purpose when you’re life is a mess?

It’s not about the Taco.  It’s not about our next performance.  It’s not about doing things with our own strength.  It’s not about waiting until the mess is over but embracing God’s purpose for us even in the mess.

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