Have you ever gone into a situation with great expectations only to find out that the situation is not as you expected? I have had a couple of these experiences recently. The first was at a car shop. The second was at a hospital.
I went into the shop for what I understood to be an “express oil change service.” To me. this sounds like it will be quick. I set the appointment for 7:00am so I could get it done and get on with my day. I had great expectations and the anticipation of going in, getting an oil change, and getting out quickly. This seemed entirely reasonable. I rolled up at 6:55am and got in line behind four other cars waiting for them to open at 7:00. They opened and had us all in by 7:15. I grabbed a cup of coffee and went to the service lounge. Prepared, I read my Bible and worked on some sermon prep, patiently waiting for my car to be finished. At 9:00, two hours after my appointment time, I started looking for my appointed service technician. Long story short–I learned that “express service” at this place means you can drop off your car, get a shuttle to work, and leave your car with them all day! To me, that is not express at all! My appointment was at 7:00 and their technicians do not even come in to work until 8:00. I spent three hours waiting for an oil change because, from my perspective, their idea of “express” was not very well expressed.
Now for the hospital. I had cut my hand on a dirty piece of metal doing yard work. It wasn’t bad, but I was unsure of the timing of my last tetanus shot. Checking with my health provider, they advised that I needed a tetanus shot. I had to go to the hospital in Woodland Hills because no other place was open on Saturday and to wait until Monday would be too long. Arriving at the hospital, I walked into the emergency entrance. Giving my ID, I explained why I was there and said I simply needed a tetanus shot. They told me to wait, adding that they would get right to me. Long story short I waited 45 minutes and was charged $240 for being in the Emergency Room. When I protested, they told me I should have walked into “Urgent Care,” not “Emergency.” My reply, “There’s a difference?” They found this funny. I was not amused.
I hope you find the humor in these two events. I do now. When they happened, not so much. In some ways, I think that my expectations and anticipation in these two scenarios is somewhat like that of Jesus’ closest followers in the Gospel of John. The disciples were looking for a long-awaited Messiah. They thought he would be a deliverer, a conqueror, a king unlike any other. They expected him to overthrow oppressive powers and bring the rule of God in ways they had never seen before. Everything they had seen in Jesus led them to be increasingly convinced that he was exactly as they imagined . . . right up until the end. Can you imagine their shock when Jesus was arrested and crucified? In reality, he was and is a deliverer, a conqueror, a king unlike any other, but they certainly did not see it coming. They had read the Scriptures and all the signs inaccurately. The express service he offered gave them power and citizenship in a heavenly Kingdom. Jesus had seen their urgent spiritual need when they were looking for an emergency response of a military king and army. What they longed for was not unrealistic, but what God intended was better than what they expected. They had misread the signs. In hindsight it was clear, but, in the moment it seemed all wrong.
God is wiser than all of us put together. Perhaps we need to take a close look at our expectations. What do we anticipate God is up to? Be careful. His goal may not be yours.