Those of you who are a regular part of The Bridge (our contemporary service at Asbury UMC) have most likely heard me talk about my paternal grandmother, Bessie. Nearly every Sunday from the time I can remember until I was 25, our family would share a Sunday meal together. It was AMAZING. She was an incredible cook. On her dinner table, it was common to have fried chicken, macaroni and cheese (the kind where the cheese is toasted on the top), butter beans, rice, potato salad, sliced tomato and brown and serve rolls. It was carbolicious! At some point, either my dad or uncle bought her a microwave oven which she used for years to store old cool whip and butter containers for leftovers. I remember asking her why she did not use the microwave and she said something like “If you expect the food to taste good, you can’t rush it!”

We all have expectations for how life should be. For many Jews in the time of Jesus, the Messiah would be a military king that would vanquish the Romans and establish a new kingdom. Jesus had to refocus the disciples’ expectations often because they kept trying to make Him a political leader.  When “Peter” cut off the soldier’s ear in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus rebuked him saying, “no more of this” and healed the man (Luke 22).  Jesus knew that true redemption of the world would not come through political means. True redemption would come through transformation of hearts not through the decree of powerful political kingdoms. The hard work of redemption only comes through a long process of transformation. 

We live in an instant culture! We have come to expect not having to wait on things that we need or desire. Microwave meals, texting, Amazon Prime, streaming entertainment, self check out, the list goes on. So when we find ourselves in “The Middle” of a pause of life, our expectations are blown to bits. We expect things to get back to normal right NOW!  

Our expectations shape the view we have of the world.  If we expect that things will go back to normal in May and we can live life exactly the way we did about six weeks ago, we are going to be really frustrated. I was reading an article in Psychology Today as I was researching expectations for this blog. I was struck by how some of the principles mirrored our Christian values. The article gave some practical things we can do to change our expectations, such as:

  1. Empty Your Cup. What a great biblical image! Jesus prayed in the garden to “let this cup pass from me.” If we think we know everything about this virus and how we should respond, then we have no room in our cup to consider other options. Empty your cup and keep an open mind about the situation.
  2. Be Present.  As we are in “The Middle” of a crisis, it is easy to just look forward to it being over rather than living in the moment. We are going through a very difficult time; this is a defining moment in the history of our world. Don’t miss the opportunities that are here in “The Middle.” In the first chapter of the book of James, we are encouraged to look for things we can learn during hard times. If we are not present in the moment, we will miss some of the lessons–time to spend with family, time to read, time to pray  and discover where Jesus may be telling you, “no more of this.”

We are all experiencing this pandemic from a different perspective. I read on Facebook this week that we are in the same storm together but just not on the same boat. For some, this is a welcome pause. For many, it’s inconvenient. For others, it’s financially devastating. For more, a time to mourn loved ones. When we approach life with an open mind (Empty Cup) we can help people process what is happening (Be Present). The reality is there are no quick fixes for the place we find our world in today.  Like the disciples, we are in for the long haul and need to change our expectations.

Change with me,
Pastor Robert

The Middle – Post 4