About a year ago I really started praying about my relationships with people and why some had anger, unforgiveness, bitterness, tension, etc. What God revealed to me was really not a shock, but was a light bulb moment that completely changed me and all my relationships. So let me explain …
I think the thing I love about the Old Testament Stories and the lessons we learn from the Pharisees attacks on Jesus were how God used people we wouldn’t expect (a girl like Esther, a simple soldier like Joshua), people we would judge (like the pharisees judged), people with a past (a prostitute like Rahab), etc. Thinking about these people and their stories and even the parables Jesus told, I became curious about what the word Grace meant in Hebrew or Greek. I found that in the Old Testament the word used is chesed meaning deliverance from enemies, affliction, or adversity. It can also mean enablement, daily guidance, forgiveness, and preservation. In the New Testament the word used is Charis, which focuses on the provision of salvation.
Let’s LOOK and THINK on that for a moment … chesed word in the Old Testament for Grace DELIVERANCE FROM ENEMIES … FROM AFFLICTION … FROM ADVERSITY. So, by Grace I am delivered from my enemies, from affliction, from adversity. WHEN I extend GRACE (chesed can also mean forgiveness) I am DELIVERED. Are you holding onto unforgiveness that could deliver you … could FREE YOU?
NEXT LOOK and THINK about charis the New Testament word for Grace a provision for salvation … PROVIDES SALVATION … extending grace provides ME WITH SALVATION!!! Again, are you holding onto bitterness, anger, tension …. that if you extended grace/forgiveness would SET YOU FREE??
Okay, so after you have a hold of anything that is keeping you from real freedom move on in reading.
So, I have in mind those people or circumstances that get me all hot and bothered … irritated … down right angry. Am I free? NOPE! Here is how He tied together my life verse and little tid-bits I pulled from Bible Studies. How He brought ME freedom from the bondage of my anger, bitterness, etc. So, here is what God revealed to me in that moment.
IT IS ALL IN YOUR EXPECTATIONS OF YOURSELF, OF OTHERS, AND OF EVEN ME, MY DAUGHTER!
I can truthfully say it wasn’t a shocker, but I did cry. Just let the tears fall as I seen everything in my life in a new and different way. As my heart softened toward every person in my life…in my world…in the world. NOW to add I am not talking about giving a free pass to evil … The Holy Spirit gives us Discernment for a reason. So, let me explain what I mean …
That person or circumstance that brings up all those negative emotions that let’s be honest keep us in bondage … keep us from truly living a full life…do we feel what we feel about them or the event because of our expectations of how one should behave? How the event should have gone? How evil the person was that violated you? How God took that person from here rather than protecting them or curing them? Etc…
So, really take time to think about that right now….how do your expectations of your self, parents, children, relatives, friends, neighbors, church members, leaders, etc….. play into those negative feelings?
So, NOW you have the negative feeling named and you have identified your own ROLE in that situation. How your expectations played a part? Here now is where we get real … you can not control anyone ever!!
This is why God frees us by our own actions alone! So, someone violates you … by forgiving them does nothing for them it FREES YOU. By realizing you expect people to never hurt another person does not take into account the real power of evil in our world…it does not take into account the control mental illness plays in the lives of others. AGAIN … I am not giving a free pass, but what I am saying is God frees you when you forgive and LET HIM handle the other side…the other person. You get to move on and live the full life He has for you.
I expect God to take away all the suffering TODAY … I am me … He is God. He loves beyond my understanding. He knows beyond my understanding. He gave more than I can ever give. Who am I to expect anything more that what He promised with a Baby and a Cross … TO LOVE ME NO MATTER WHAT.
So, here I am in my expectations … I expect myself to be my best ALL THE TIME, I expect my husband to be romantic and spend plan great date nights, I expect our parents to love taking the kids so we can have date nights regularly, I expect my friends to know I am in need of a hug or a text, I expect my kids to always be awesome, etc …. OKAY NOW I AM LAUGHING OUT LOUD … I expect my neighbors to not be racist, I expect my government leaders to follow the Lord and do His will, I expect the people who disagree with me to know we both still deserve our rights, etc ..
I realized that these expectations were what was hurting all my relationships. I would get upset at a person for NOT doing or behaving what I expected of them and there a wedge would be built. Built on anger or frustration the devil will use because I opened the door for him to use it. These expectations of the people, who legitimately hurt me and deserved punishment. Here I expected that their punishment would set me free. Or I expected that person to be something they really never were. Regardless though … by focusing on the situation or the person and how I expected it all to play out I was not free. To be free I had to extend Grace … let go of my expectations and leave them to God.
So, is it clear yet how our expectations HOLD US IN BONDAGE …. are the problem? Maybe, but one more point … why our expectations are a bit silly when we think of how God has used people or circumstances to bring freedom…a freedom that changes worlds … that lasts beyond generations.
Now how he connected some dots for me … The past 5 years I have LOVED doing a Jesse Tree during Advent with our kids. I was just fascinated by the lineage of Jesus and the journey of our faithful ancestors while they waited thousands of years for a savior. That is powerful to me … THOUSANDS of years … I struggle with thinking we have only waiting 2000 years for a 2nd coming…THE FINAL coming.
What helped me get free was reading through the grace God extended in His journey to bringing us Jesus … in the people He CHOSE to use. When I look at this I get a clear image of how WRONG I am in expecting things of people when they are just unable to give for reasons I may never know. Or expecting people CANNOT do something because of my perceptions or what I expect of people “like them” when God has an awesome plan for them.
My life verse comes from the book of Esther. One day before my class had started I was praying and asking God why I was here … here teaching a struggling group of kids … here in my life facing what I was facing… I randomly opened my Bible to Mordecai telling Esther “Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” Different translations word it a bit differently …”maybe you were born for just such a time as this?” I have looked at me life differently from that point forward. YES I WAS BORN IN THIS TIME FOR A REASON … FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS. Esther was a simple girl, a Jew, that became a queen, a chosen queen. She was not only chosen by the king, but she was born for such a time chosen by THE KING to set her people free. A poor simple girl reached out from where she was to the poor and suffering to free them…to help raise them up. She set aside her expectations of herself, of the king, and she responded to God’s call and The Blessings came!
When I was studying the book of Joshua I met a prostitute named Rahab that stuck with me. When working on the Jesse Tree I came to understand why … she was one of Jesus’ ancestors. Yes, she was a desperate sinful women that seen these men planning their attack on her city, BUT somehow she knew they would in fact destroy her city. She helped them, she reached out and saved them, saved her family, … she was born for such a time and she responded to God’s call on her life. She was forgiven and she became a many Great-Grandmother to THE KING. God chose a prostitute to help carry on the lineage of Jesus. God chose a prostitute to help carry His will … to eventually bring me a savior.
Now I could share more stories for the imperfect people God chose to do great things, to be apart of Jesus’ lineage, but my point is … we hold onto so much because we expect so much or so little … God just wants us to be willing to be used. To be free of all bondage so He can use us to the fullest. To let go and willingly run into His arms and be blessed with a pure full unhindered love … a life beyond our dreams.
Now take some time to let go of expectations … let go of the emotions attached to them … focus on listening to His call … RUN TO HIM and say “Lord, I was born for such a time as this USE me!”