Friday, May 18, 2001

"Expectation Boxes"

It's been said more than once, "You get what you expect." In most cases that is true.

So what were Peter, James and John expecting when they climbed the side of the mountain with Jesus? Not much. They'd been there before. Jesus had a habit of going up the mountain to spend long periods of time in prayer. Talking to His Dad. At least once the disciples were so impressed with Jesus' times of prayers that they asked Him how to pray. He gave them what we call the Lord's Prayer. Should have been named the Disciples' Prayer. It's not real long, but fraught with meaning that will take us a lifetime to grasp.

Back to the mountain. It appears that the disciples were not much into long times of prayers and more often than not, fell asleep while Jesus prayed. It happened that day. We don't know how long they slept or how long Jesus had been praying before the significant occurred. That day, that time, that place became the "Mount of Transfiguration." Jesus' human appearance was completely changed into His heavenly glory. His face was transformed. His clothes became white as a lightning flash. If that were not enough, Moses and Elijah showed up to talk with Jesus.

The disciples missed the first part of this miracle. They were snuggly settled in to sleep. Something woke them. They groggily stirred until the sight shocked them into awakeness. They watched and listened for a while and finally figured out who the two glorified guys were talking to Jesus. When the disciples realized Moses and Elijah were about to leave, Peter did something that gives me great comfort. He started talking nonsense because, ( and here I quote the Bible. Check it out – it really is in there), "he did not know what he was saying." Man, how many times has that been my testimony!

And what did he say? "Let's stay here! This is so good. I like guys who are dead hanging around talking to us. Let's not go back down the mountain. There are loads of problems and difficulties waiting for us there. We'll build 3 shrines, one for each of you, and we can just stay here forever." I've felt like that. Had a great experience that removes my mind and heart from the world and wished I could stay there. But that is not why Jesus was on earth and it's not why we're still here. That is a description of heaven and why we must do all we can to get there.

Peter missed the point of the event. He'd been listening, but he had not been hearing. Moses and Elijah had come to Jesus to encourage Him because He was facing death on the cross. It was not to remove Him from the world and its difficulties, but to give Him the strength to face them. Peter didn't catch it because he was expecting Jesus to be the conquering Savior, not the dying Savior.

Finally the Father got Peter to shut up by enveloping the disciples and Jesus in a cloud and saying, "This is my son, whom I have chosen; listen to Him." When the disciples looked up the two dead/alive guys were gone, Jesus was back to His human appearance and the cloud was gone. The three followed Jesus back down the mountain, stunned and wondering what THAT was all about. They didn't get it until after Jesus' resurrection.

Peter, James and John didn't expect anything except another nap while Jesus prayed. They got more than they expected, didn't they? Or did they? When the scene changed, their expectations changed and they tried to fit what was happening into their "expectation box." "Ah, yes," they probably thought, "Now Jesus will free us from political bondage." Never could they imagine, even when they heard the conversation among the heavenly trio, that Jesus was going to be arrested and killed. Why? Because they were confined by their "expectation box." This was the most significant event in Jesus' life between His birth and death and these fellows missed it.

I believe we miss much of what God wants to do because we, too, have an "expectation box." Even if we are followers of the Master, we have been conditioned by years of life to see with our eyes instead of our souls. The unexpected happens and we don't even see it, let alone understand it because it doesn’t fit into our box. When we do see it, like the Pete, Jim and Jack, we change the box and still don’t comprehend what it is about. God wants to blow the walls out of our "expectation boxes" and we keep nailing them together tighter and tighter.

So what is the solution? There is no easy one. But there is one. Next time something happens, instead of allowing your mind to immediately shove you into your "expectation box," stop. It doesn’t have to make sense. It doesn't have to be easily or readily understood. Just stop and pray this prayer, "God, what do you want me to see here? Open the eyes of my soul to see with my soul." Don't ask to comprehend it. Just let God take off the blinders that life has placed on that place within you that connects with the God of the universe. God has so much, so very much He wants us to see and experience if we'll allow it.

""This is what the LORD says, he who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it--the LORD is his name: 3 'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.'" Jeremiah 33:2-3 (NIV)

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