“Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!” (Matthew 6:22-23 NLT)
Two things come to mind as I think about the above title. First, what governs our expectations? And second, how do we define “great?” It’s uncanny on some levels the effect our life stories have on our behavior. How we view things often governs how we do things. But what if our view is skewed?
Jesus said in the verse above that if our “eye” is bad it can distort not only what we see, but how we see it. “Light” infers a correct or accurate appraisal of what we’re looking at, while “darkness” implies an inaccurate understanding. Which begs the question: “What if what we think we believe is based on a misunderstanding of what we think we know?”
Expectations are based on what we believe. If I believe the mechanic I have working on my car is honest and well trained, I will likely expect my car to work well when I pick it up, and that I will be charged a reasonable price. But if my expectation is that all people are out to get me, dishonest, and greedy, I will likely expect the mechanic to cheat me, either by charging me too much and/or not correctly addressing the issue with my car.
It’s ironic that when something negative happens our first word is “great.” We’re running late for work, but when we jump in the car it doesn’t start – “Great!” We’re geared to see the proverbial glass as half full or half empty. We either gear our expectations to expect good or bad, and for the most part, we’re not disappointed.
So, what if our “eye” is bad? What if we’re a pessimist? I read about a young woman who was excited because her mom had had eye surgery and her vision was much improved. She had her mom over and was excited to see her improved vision for herself. She purposely left the curtains open to reveal the beautiful view of her back yard, so she asked: “Mom, what do you see?” as she pointed to the window. Her mom was quiet for a moment, then said: “Don’t you ever clean your windows?”
Unfortunately, that’s too often how we approach prayer. Our expectations of God are so focused on ourselves, we forfeit the view of the beautiful world around us and all the ways God is blessing and working.
Andrew Murray wrote: “In your prayers, above everything else, beware of limiting God, not only through unbelief but also by thinking you know exactly what He can do. Learn to expect the unexpected, beyond all that you ask or think. So each time you intercede through prayer, first be quiet and worship God in His glory. Think of what He can do, how He delights in Christ His Son, and of your place in Him – then expect great things.”
In this season, as we celebrate the coming of our Creator King as an infant in a manger bed, think of all those who crowded into Bethlehem, so many there was no room in the Inn, yet how few took the time and made the effort to come to see the Lord. May we be like the Shepherds to whom the angels spoke, eager to “go and see.” I may not be the sharpest pencil in the box, but this much I know – whatever God’s up to, it’s going to be great for those of us who are sensitive to His voice and have eyes to see His majesty and splendor.
Our expectations should be high, as we focus our eyes on the Eastern sky, anticipating our Savior’s soon return. Optimist or pessimist, one day we’re all going to see as we’ve been seen and for those of us who know and love Jesus, it’s going to be a great day!
Blessings, Ed 😊