If expectations were rocks, I’d have a sack so full, it would be straining at the seams! Sadly, it’s not the expectations of others that fill my sack, but my own expectations of myself. I overcommit and overschedule. I tell myself to go slow while at the same time adding another item to my to-do list. I expect to get things right and get things done—perfectly (or close to it) and on time.
Thankfully, God’s expectations of me are not as demanding. I’ve been preparing this week’s Sunday school lesson, and it is reminding me of that. Psalm 103 puts it in perspective: For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust. My own unrealistic expectations and resulting failures are met by God, not with condemnation, but with grace and love.
God is not into finger pointing and guilt trips. While we in our weakness make ourselves and others feel guilty and inadequate about shortcomings and failures, God never does. Jesus’ sacrifice proves that God is a God of grace, not guilt. Guilt separates us from God, causing us to focus on our unworthiness instead of the infinite, unending love God has for us. God is so in love with us that nothing we do can separate us from his love. Nothing.
I don’t think I should abuse God’s love by saying it doesn’t matter how poorly I follow the example of Jesus. A healthy awareness of my “dustiness” is a good thing, but not as a club to beat myself up with. That’s the reason for repentance and God’s forgiveness. Out of my gratitude for that forgiveness, I want to turn away from those behaviors that are incongruent with what I say I believe, yet always with the knowledge that growing in Christlikeness is a lifelong journey—a journey full of stumbling on the rocks of expectations.