Recently I’ve been thinking about a few situations in the lives of friends/family/acquaintances of mine. These circumstances have led me to question some areas of my own life in relation to how I feel about what God is doing or perceived to NOT be doing in my life.
I have been cornered with a question that I am not so certain the best answer nor am I even certain as to whether I can always know the answer.
This question is simply this – DO I EXPECT OR DEMAND God to do good/great things in my life?
I believe we often times get this confused and it occurs to me that there may be only a SLIGHT difference between the 2 realities of these words. One can even see how muddy the water becomes by simply referencing the terms’ own definitions.
EXPECT: defined as : to anticipate or look forward to the coming or occurrence of : suppose, think : to consider probable or certain
DEMAND: defined as : an act of demanding or asking especially with authority : something claimed as due
The way I view the aspect of EXPECTING someone to do something has more of a positive slant. I am waiting with great anticipation at something positive to occur there is an air of HOPEFULNESS and while I may be somewhat disappointed if it does not happen there is almost an understanding and trust that it was simply not meant to be, or at least not in this time frame.
The way I view the aspect of DEMANDING someone to do something has more of a negative slant. The idea that I am attempting to use my authority to force them into doing what I would like to have done. Often times this leads to a more harsh reaction if and when whatever the perceived outcome is not achieved. I believe when I or anyone else lives in this air of demand on others it is much harder for them to handle the results that do not turn out in their favor. They even struggle when the outcome DOES turn out in their favor because it was simply a given that it take place and thus no real need to give thanks or be appreciative.
At least these are MY OWN THOUGHTS & THEORIES.
I believe this very much bleeds over into our relationship with our Heavenly Father – often when we simply live EXPECTING Him to do good or great things in our life and wait with anticipation to watch how He works – we are open to trusting in His will and His direction. But on the alternative when we live (and I’m sure none of us would ever admit that we are truly doing this – but I think how we react to the outcome is the true test) in a way to DEMAND Him to do good or great things in our lives there is a much different attitude involved.
I believe we have more trouble understanding when things do NOT turn out the way we hoped. We tend to get more angry and ask why He would do such a thing to us. As stated earlier I also believe that these 2 different starting points with how we relate to God also affect when things DO go in our favor. With simple EXPECTING of Him we are more readily available to give the glory & honor & praise He deserves but when DEMANDING we tend to feel we were OWED it anyway and it was just God making good on what we deserved. I think this is an extremely DANGEROUS place to live.
I want to share a passage from Matthew 19:16-22 – the story of the Rich Young Ruler & Jesus. I believe that the man came to Jesus with more of a DEMAND instead of simply EXPECTING something from Jesus. This man felt that he had kept all the laws he needed to and that he DESERVED to receive eternal life. Instead of EXPECTING an answer from Jesus that might require MORE of him, I think he showed a DEMAND to Jesus to repay him for all the good deeds he had done. In the end we see he went away sad – which goes back to my comment earlier about the way we REACT to the outcome may be the truest indicator of what attitude we had walking into the setting.
I think this lesson plays itself out in 2 specific areas of my own life:
1) My financial life – often times I have tried to really & truly sacrifice for the good of others and for the Kingdom. But I sometimes am confronted with the reality that my motives may not be of purest form. I sometimes feel like I may be doing these things with a small thought in the back of my head that if I do this now – then I KNOW God will do something great to bless me in the future and I’ll live fine & dandy because He looks back to see all my sacrifice. So instead of EXPECTING, through obedience to God, that He will take care of my needs – I sometimes DEMAND that due to my “good works” He take care of some of my wants instead. Then might get frustrated or disillusioned when He does not give the results I had in my own mind.
2) My dating relationship life (or lack thereof ha ha) – This is a subject in which I don’t typically choose to discuss in such an open & public format, but if I am to be true & honest then I must share this. As I have experienced friendships and interacted with different young ladies in my life of whom either I had strong interest in but they did not return the feeling, they had strong interest in me but I did not return the feeling, or that others deemed would be the “perfect pairing” but WE did not feel the same way – I have come to the conclusion that, YES, I have for the most part striven for keeping my focus on what God had in store for my life. But while that mostly may be the scenario, I think a lil of this “expecting vs. demanding” has even crept into this particular area as well.
I have given numerous reasons for not being in some sort of serious relationship and during my younger years that was completely copacetic to me and I was content living as such. But now as I get older and consider more my own desires and feelings for that part of my life to possibly change, I have to consider that maybe I have lived under the disguise of “expecting” God to provide in this area and believed that I was truly trusting Him. While in reality I may have been more living in the realm of “demanding” that if I am obedient and make “better choices” than what some others may have – He would have no choice but to reward me with a truly wonderful and specifically “God-ordained & designed” perfect match & mate for me.
These are definitely tough questions to have to face and ask myself and to be honest I do not always have a true answer for either one of them.
So I simply continue to reflect and pray and read His Word to give me guidance and then move forward with diligent efforts to live more in the realm of trying to EXPECT God to provide for all my needs instead of trying to DEMAND Him to.
So how about you – Do you EXPECT or DEMAND things from God?