Expecting the Unexpected

My last post concentrated a lot on this World we live in. The concepts and precepts in this World are vastly different from the way of God. The world’s paradigms tell us to do the opposite of God’s Word at almost every turn.

A few weeks ago I was chatting to a colleague at work who was truly horrified to hear I have never had a one-night stand or casual sex.

I laughed at the time, but her horror at the thought was tangible and became the subject of conversation for some time.

Her response was typical of worldly people. But we need to expect that.

Our expectations must be different to the World if we are to be a light in the darkness. We are conditioned by society, especially in Western society, to expect nothing. Claw our way to the top and fight tooth and nail to stay there. We fool ourselves that we can change the world from the inside out, that by living as the world lives we can influence them, but we are, in fact, being digested by the very beast we are wanting to change. We must be mindful of anything that can take our eyes off our ultimate goal.

A few years ago a church a family member was involved in leading Worship was advised by the senior leader to stop singing the worship song “I believe in Jesus” because it contained the phrase “Here with the power to heal now”. The rationale was that this line might create an expectation in the congregation that God heals today. The leader had never seen a healing, and didn’t expect to.

I’ve been a member of churches like that in the past. Frankly the religious nature sickens me. It becomes a modern day hive of pharisees all trying to earn brownie points. Exactly what Jesus came to do away with.

Jesus did what they didn’t expect. He forgave sins, healed on the Sabbath, threw out the money-changers from the Temple, ate with sinners, befriended tax collectors and hookers and raised the dead. Then he told his disciples (including us) we could do all those things and more because of His sacrifice.

He told us to expect what the World tells us not to.

So many people in congregations sit in their pew once a week for an hour or two and think it makes them a Christian. Or the devoted ones go to home groups or bible-study meetings as well. Try convincing them you’re a car because you spend every Tuesday evening sitting in your garage. The principle is the same, but they can’t see it. It’s a ludicrous notion.

Be what the World doesn’t expect. Do what it doesn’t expect. Expect what it doesn’t expect.

Jesus didn’t tell us to pray for the sick. He told us to heal them. No instruction to study medicine, just heal the sick. Freely receive and freely give.

The World says store it for a rainy day. God says give away your umbrella and I’ll provide.

Right now my wife and I are starting up a new venture. The economy says it’s a bad time to start a business. The exchange rate says it’s a bad time to start a business. The World system says it’s a bad time to be starting a business. Global recession. God inspired us. We’re starting a business. God gave us Hope, we looked at that Hope and it grew into Faith, and Faith is transforming the vision into a reality. We expect the unexpected according to the World.

We forget God’s Wisdom is folly to the World and those in it. I’ll readily admit I’ve had moments where the thought of what we’re doing scares me, but then I remember God inspired this. We were offered a business in exactly the same field for a fraction of the expected price, but in a different location. We wrestled with the choice, but eventually we reached a place of unity about it being the wrong thing to do and we’re moving ahead where God told us to move. The doors have opened with a little push, not had to be forced. If you’ve read the posts before this, you’ll know I have referred to myself as a “wrecking-ball” for God. I just bluster ahead and blast anything that tries to get in the way aside. My wife, thankfully, whilst just as strong as I am is a weapon of more finesse. We complement one another’s shortfalls and bolster each other’s strengths. It’s a good team.

Expect the unexpected. Always.

Upside Down or Right side Up?

It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted here. I tried to write a few times, but nothing really came up to write about. 

Until I looked back on the time.

Without going into the long and boring details, I realised something about this World.

It’s upside down.


I currently am employed in a call center environment. The call center is “Customer Service” technically. In that I interact with customers I guess you could describe it as such.

We are assessed in our performance through a sample of our calls being evaluated over the course of the month, and on feedback from client satisfaction surveys. It all makes sense until you look under the surface.

We are encouraged to keep interactions short. Long calls are discouraged as being a lesser form of customer service. Keep it short, avoid small talk and get to the next call quickly.

I worked for a different organisation a few years ago. Their attitude was the opposite. It was an easier environment to function in. In fact I’ve worked in the general industry for over 20 years in one way or another. The place I miss most was a Church in South Devon. As part of my “work” there I met people, chatted to them about issues they had with the way things were in the church itself, and issues affecting their lives. Sometimes I’d spend an entire morning talking to just one person. Sometimes it would be several. But time was never an issue.

Don’t misunderstand me. I understand the needs and differences between a local church and a national organisation, and that the service needs are different. I’d be very worried if the clients I deal with daily were just calling to say “hi” and chat about their day. But there needs to be recognition of humanity as well as efficiency.

There was an audit recently of our company. The Head Office wanted to make sure standards were being met by our managers. These standards included how forms are filled out, how many calls agents are handling efficiently (read “quickly” there). The thrust on the managers is first contact solutions for issues. The thrust on agents is speed. in my experience, these can often be antithetical concepts.

For over 20 years I’ve focussed on solving issues first time. And I was good at it. Taking my time is something that enables me to give the highest level of service. And I put myself into the contact, empathy not sympathy has to drive me.

But that’s me. What about God?

God takes His time. He created seasons for a purpose. There needs to be a time for all things as recorded in Ecclesiastes.

Jesus took His time teaching the disciples and the people of the day what God’s way was. He was never hurried. In fact, He often was deliberately cryptic to prolong an interaction with people. He was God incarnate and yet He empathised with the prostitute at Simon the Pharisee’s home. He made sure 5000 men plus the women and children with them had enough food rather than sending them away. Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and Martha bustled around, and Mary was praised.

Through the entire scripture we witness God chastising His people for majoring in the minor things of life. Provision of manna in the desert, a scrawny shepherd defeating a giant of a man because he knew His God and the Covenant he had. Then grumblings when Moses was too long up the mountain led to the golden calf, David staying home in his palace at the time Kings go to war resulting in the murder of Bathsheba’s husband. Majoring in the minor, even by the great men of the old and new testament, resulted in God chastising them out of Love.

The World system today emphasises things that are ultimately of no consequence and minimises the things that matter. Magazine headline articles glorifying why it was the right thing to do for the celebrity couple to divorce because he saw a younger woman and decided he’d look “better” with her. There’s no emphasis on commitment. Marriages fail. It doesn’t work, the “proof” in the statistics says that 40% of marriages end in divorce. Whilst shocking, doesn’t that mean 60% don’t? And how many of the 40% that fail are consisting of people in their 2nd, 3rd or 4th try? Perhaps the people divorcing just don’t know Love, real Love is a choice, not an emotion. Emotional Love didn’t take Jesus to the Cross for us. Emotional love cannot sustain a marriage when the storms hit.

Jesus was the first Customer Relationship Manager. He dismissed the managers who focussed on the little stuff – the Pharisees. He focussed on the major things. He did it Right Side Up.

This world is upside-down. We’ve allowed ourselves to glorify the minor and ignore the major issues. Most people will never reach their full potential because it isn’t valued by them. They are taught to kill their own desires for the sake of trimming time, not just in a call-center, but in everything. We are bombarded with “time-saving” devices. Jesus showed that we can’t actually “save” time. We can live or not. It’s up to us.

“All men die Angus, but not all truly Live” says William Wallace in “Braveheart”

Living involves making our priorities right. I would die for my family, friends or my Faith. There isn’t anything any employer could do to persuade me to die for the company, but most companies expect us to surrender our off-time to them instead of spending quality time with family, friends. They call it “team building” or some other term to make it sound important. It isn’t. I like mo
st of the people I work with, but there’s only a handful I would describe as friends the way Jesus used the word. I’ll do anything to help them because they are real relationships based on shared hopes, dreams and Faith (mostly). My Best friend works in my office. I’d go almost as far for her as I would for my wife to help her. God guides me and gives me the strength to be a support to her, and vice-versa. The friendship has a solid foundation based on the truly important things.

It’s time for the Church to wake up and turn this world right side up again. 2000 years ago Jesus did it with 12 close friends and around 120 followers. Why not do it again now?

Ultimately it’s our choice. Change is painful, but if the caterpiller doesn’t spin the cocoon it never becomes a butterfly.

Upside down or right way up? Live life to the full or live as an oxygen thief?

You choose.

A Longing Fulfilled

Proverbs 13:12 has been on my heart a lot the last few weeks. Initially I was focused on the first part of the verse. I’ve lived in a state of deferred hope for a long time. I suffered depression so dark that I couldn’t see a way out and even tried suicide more than once – I don’t recommend it as a plan!

My life story has been filled with loss and brokenness. But there’s also been times of hope that have kept me going. It’s easy to forget the good when the bad hits in such waves.

“A tree of life” is how the passage describes what it is to have the hope fulfilled. Life.

Hope deferred is a way of life today. Depression, suicide, drug abuse, alcoholism are just symptoms of the desperation the World has filled our hearts with. Insidious promises we can never hope to achieve dog us daily in this world.

The Enemy of our Souls has found a way to trap us. We live mndane existances that only the most cynical would call life. We stopped asking the deep questions long ago. Why are we here? What is God’s plan for us?

These questions drove the first Christians in the Bible. St Paul spent his whole life after meeting Christ on the road to Damascus seeking the answers. He phrased is simply with 2 questions:

  1. Who Are You?
  2. What do you want me to do?

His hope kept him alive through everything. I grew into Faith that the Romans could ony stop in this World by cutting off his head.

Major questions today are “what’s for dinner” or “when does the game start?” We have been fooled into thinking these are the meaningful questions. Answers like “get a degree”, “get a promotion” or “stay in your cubicle” catrate us from living the life God has intended. We need to use our imagination to give us Hope, our Hope to feed our Faith, and our Faith to proceed into living the dream.

Then we need to ask God to expand it. Our Longing will be fulfilled.

We will have Life.