May 31

Expectations and Influence

by Tim Mueller

My mom’s great expectation for my brothers and me was that we would all become Catholic priests. To her, that was the highest calling for her boys and pressure was applied early in our lives that we fulfill her expectations. Instead I became a pipe, valve and fitting salesman.

Would that reality be a disappointment to her were she still alive?

I don’t know.

My parents were of modest means – in the end, I think she would have wanted us all to be happy, to do what is right, and to walk humbly with our God. I think that would have satisfied her expectation.

We all deal with expectations in our lives and the level of expectation and the degree to which we fulfill them determines the response.

What we have to realize is that worldly expectations and heavenly expectations rarely mesh and the heavenly ones trump the earthly ones every time. But the difference between the two is a source of conflict that is resolved sometimes at great cost and sometimes never.

Even people of faith struggle with this dilemma and, after much prayer and counsel, still manage to mess it up. How do we resolve this struggle? How do we communicate to people that have expectations for us that we are being led by God to a place that is not yet fully focused to us?

That is a struggle I’m struggling with, but a portion of today’s reading speaks to this.

In Matthew chapter 26, Jesus has been brought before the high priests and found guilty of blasphemy. Their response?

67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists.

Others slapped him.

As with so many times when I read the Bible, I find myself asking why. In the case of this passage, I want to know why the high priests found it necessary to react violently to Jesus admission of divinity when they could have just as easily just sent him off for execution.

I wonder if their desire for a Messiah was so great – their vision and expectations of a great and glorious Israel, led by a David like King, was so real and intense – that their natural response was anger and disappointment?

The expectation was that Jesus was the King they had waited so long for…the reality was that he was the King they had waited so long for – just not the type of King they had expected.

I remember Pastor Harvey (the pastor at Faith Baptist Church prior to Pastor Kerry) that he prayed for his children and his children’s children and his children’s children’s children and on and on. This comment affected me profoundly because the thought of my actions and words having influence in future generations had never occurred to me.

The way we raise our children has an effect on how they raise their children?

If we raise God loving children, put them into a nurturing environment, allow the Holy Spirit to do his work in them, and foster an environment of care and love and tenderness and generosity and loyalty and hard work, are we raising future generations in the same way? If we set that all in motion, will it come to be?

That is a pretty strong influence!

I used to think that money was the strongest influence in life. I believed my pocketbook was more powerful than a kind word, or a tender touch or the sweat of my brow when needed.

How wrong I was.

I’ve come to realize that the influence of money is limited by life span of brick and mortar and the life span of the human body. But the way I live, the way that I impact others, and the way that I share my faith has eternal value.

Jesus had no money, yet his life, words, care, wisdom, tenderness, passion and sacrifice motivated twelve simple men to move mountains. His influence has motivated people to do good for thousands of years and will for thousands more.

That is a pretty strong influence!

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