Sunday, April 04, 2010

Great Expectations...

It is not everyday that you gain an insight into what your life to be - an epiphany into your life so to speak. And to get one on Easter weekend is all the more poignant.

One of the things that leap up to me last week was my experience prior to, during and after a fateful April 1st evening. I went with the cell to do 7 stations of the cross - a church-wide event for us to better understand Christ's journey at the very last moments that lead up to the crucifixion. There are 7 stations on the journey - and space and time for us to contemplate each one.

(For those who did not know which are the 7 stations, here is a list :) - Station 1: Jesus washing the disciple's feet, Station 2: The last supper, Station 3: Gethsemane, Station 4: The Arrest, Station 5: The Trial, Station 6: The Way of the Cross & Station 7: The Crucifixion)

I can say that each of the 7 stations spoke to me but one station's recurring theme sets the tone for me this Easter - The Trial. From John 18, we see Jesus being led through a sham trial in front of the High Priest followed by another in front of Pilate. In this trial, he was convicted under the court of popular opinion, the court where the truth is lost in the cacophony of laws and dark whispers.

From then on Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, saying, “If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar’s friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar.” (John 19:12)

Through this station at church, we were brought through a series of questions and challenged to change our answers due to popular opinion. This exercise may seem absurd to some and to be in total futility to others but in my life I believe that what that have taken the place of laws and political intrigue is Expectations. In our relatively free society where the law rarely intrudes, we are now bottled in by expectations - the expectations of our parents, people from church, our friends, that special someone in our lives and even self imposed expectations. One of the most famous lines in our lives (and in mine over the past five days) is that 'we/I expected more of you', 'we/I expected more effort from you' and 'what you have done is below our expectations'. I personally have said to myself many times - "You should have done more - I expect you to be able to do a lot more." But why do we allow the expectation of others to dictate the way we live our life?!? Is it any different from the court of popular opinion that Pilate caved to?

What I have taken away from this weekend, not an easy one, is that we cannot let the expectations of others to rule our lives. They may not like it but their ideas about us to not define us. The standards other people imposes on us are not as important as our own standards - and our standards need to be inspired by God and His word. And by these standards defined to us by God I mean it from the bible - not some trumped up self righteous drivel that we see permeating from some quarters of 'conservatives' worldwide.

And more importantly, our walk with Jesus, our relationship with the living God should be what that defines us, not the expectations of others and of the world. And in this I am comforted by the prayers Jesus made for us in the Garden of Gethsemane (Station 3)...

Unity - Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. (John 17:11)

Protection from the Evil One - I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. (John 17:15)

Sanctity - Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. (John 17:17)

And it is with great relief and agreement that I'd say, "Amen!"

1 comment:

Missus D said...

Wow Jack, that was one epiphany you had. I really feel what you are saying and I'm thinking further, and wondering if expectations are a mutated cancerous form of belief. For example, we know our parent surely believe in the best for us, but somehow in its twisted way, it becomes an expectation that is forced upon some of us.

Seems like you had a great session with the stations!