So frequently, my friends make fun of me because I do not watch TV or listen to terrestrial radio. Often, they ask me what I think about local news events. I have to ask them to educate me on the event before I can provide a thoughtful response. Occasionally, I look up breaking news on the internet only to be bombarded by accounts of humanity at its worse. When I looked at online news accounts today, terrorism, civil war, overdose, cannibalism, and racism are terms in the top five headlines. That level of negativity cannot possible yield positive outcomes. So, I quickly exited out of the news site because I want more positive experiences than negative ones. That level of doom and gloom is stressful and erodes hope. These types of bad deeds may be the world’s reality, but they are not affirming or encouraging. But I struggle because I want to remain relevant and relatable. I know that awareness of current events is a way to get there, but in this world without rails, I quickly get lulled into believing the worst and expecting the least.
Titus 3:1-8 lays out the promises and expectations of a Christian walk. It says, “1-2 Remind the people to respect the government and be law-abiding, always ready to lend a helping hand. No insults, no fights. God’s people should be bighearted and courteous. 3-8 It wasn’t so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God’s gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there’s more life to come—an eternity of life! You can count on this.” (Message)
So how does this play out in everyday life? Many people encourage the elimination of expectations simply to avoid disappointment. What is missed with that direction is the understanding that choosing to live without expectation creates a life without inspiration. An unstimulated soul that cannot feel is lifeless. So…when we are surrounded by the challenges of negativity, low expectations, and malicious ways, how do we seek His promises and live in His light? The answer lies in prayer. With everything, go to Him on bended knee.
Driving my usual route to work the other day, I entered the on ramp to an elevated highway. I began to merge left towards fast-moving traffic into a clear lane. Suddenly, a three-axel euro truck accelerated and not only closed the gap but also switched from the main lanes to the right hand merge lane while looking left. I quickly accelerated ahead of the truck to avoid a collision with the truck and the guard rail on an elevated roadway. I thought, “Wow! That was close. Good, no one was hurt.” I continued on. Soon thereafter, traffic slowed to a standstill. I glanced into my right side view mirror and saw the euro truck slowly approaching in the adjacent lane. I then felt the driver’s eyes peering at me. I thought, “Seriously dude? You were the one who failed to maintain a single lane of traffic back there and nearly ran me off the highway. I moved on but you can’t let it go?” The peering was persistent. I finally looked over at the driver expecting to see an expletive hand gesture or some other road-rage induced, mean-spirited body language. Much to my surprise, with a very sincere looking expression, the driver mouthed, “I am very sorry.” I smiled, nodded at him, waved to him and gave him thumbs up. He then smiled and mouthed, “Thanks!” My heart then filled with joy because it was extremely obvious that God is always at work and the Spirit is alive.
Yes, the encounter touched my emotional epicenter. At first, I was shocked that an experience I thought was going to be bad, turned out so good. I then felt shame that I expected so little of my roadway neighbor. I was sad that I took so long to acknowledge him when all he was seeking was an opportunity to apologize. I was delighted that when he realized he was wrong, he took the time to make things right. I was grateful that my forgiveness of him was instinctive. I was thankful that he made time to make my day. His humility humbled me. As Criss Jami says, “To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.” In all of his humanity, my trucker brother exposed himself to build me up.
The encounter left me with this:
- Expect the best from others
- Forgiveness liberates all parties
- Regardless of others’ actions, we are called into specific action
- Look for ways to be positive and helpful
- When we blow it, work hard to repair it
None of us are perfect. There should be no expectation of perfection in ourselves or of each other. Building 429 tells us in Press on, “I am a mess, I am a wrecking ball. I must confess that I still don’t get it all. Lord I believe that all Your words are true; Doesn’t matter where I’m going if I’m going with You. I press on – When I still don’t get it. Ephesians 4:1-3 says, “I beg you…to live and act in a way worthy of those who have been chosen for such wonderful blessings as these. 2 Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 3 Try always to be led along together by the Holy Spirit and so be at peace with one another.” (The Voice)