Then Paul answered, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
- Acts 21.13
I expect daily to be killed, betrayed, or brought back into slavery, or something of the kind. But, because of the promise of heaven, I fear none of these things. For I have thrown myself into the hands of Almighty God, who reigns everywhere...
- Patrick, Confession, Irish, 5th century
We live each day toward our expectations, our hopes. Make no mistake about it: What you expect, what you hope for, will determine the course and conduct of your daily life.
We organize our time, arrange our activities, and set our minds and hearts toward what we expect in life, and what we expect becomes what we seek.
We choose our friends, spouses, work, and places to live by what we expect of these, what we hope they will bring to us in terms of goodness or happiness or pleasure.
We avoid things that we expect might bring us into conflict, opposition, suffering, or pain, because we are conditioned to live our lives with a view to maximizing bodily comfort and personal pleasure or, at least, convenience.
But comfort, pleasure, and convenience that take account only of the interests of bodily existence will throw the soul under the bus to avoid painful expectations. We’ll never succeed in our Personal Mission Fields if all we expect in life are ease, comfort, pleasure, and convenience.
These days it’s not uncommon for Christians to believe that our faith in Jesus should not only not inconvenience us, but it should not be a source of upset or distress or inconvenience to others, either. And we live our faith accordingly, being careful not to disturb anyone with our “boasting” about the Lord (2 Cor. 10.13), or our insistence on following a different path than theirs (1 Pet. 4.1-4).
Neither Patrick nor Paul lived this way. And certainly, neither did the Lord Jesus.
They knew the Gospel would stir up controversy. They knew it would make people angry and resistant, even to the point of causing difficulty and suffering for themselves. They knew that Jesus had told us to expect as much, and so they did! And they lived into those expectations, without regard for personal convenience or bodily pleasure. Faithful believers live into the wind of opposition, because they expect to know the presence, promise, and power of Christ as they do.
What about us? Do we expect working our Personal Mission Field to be a source of great entertainment? Of endless fun and pleasure? The Bible says it’s like pulling a plow, boxing with an opponent, or going to war. Not much fun, those. But if we expect such to be the case, we can prepare daily for it, and trust the Lord to sail us through such opposing gales to the shores of sanctification and greater spiritual strength.
Don’t we know that Jesus told us to expect that the world would hate us like it hated Him? That the Gospel we live and proclaim will cause divisions and strife? That people will speak ill of us, persecute us, and do all manner of evil against us because of the Gospel?
But that He will be with us always, and will never fail us nor forsake us?
No, we know all these things, don’t we – we just don’t really expect them.
And since we don’t expect them, we don’t live toward them. Instead, we live toward a comfortable, untroubled, all-pacifying, nonconfrontational, convenient gospel.
The only problem is, that’s not the Gospel of Patrick, Paul – or Jesus.
What expectations will you live toward today? Those of the world, or those of Patrick, Paul, and Jesus?
Psalm 124.1-3, 8 (Neumark: If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee)
If You had not been with us, Jesus – let all who love You say with pride –
When foes arose to fright and seize us, they would have swallowed us alive!
Our help is in Your Name, O Lord,
Who made creation by Your Word.
Lord, give me right expectations, and a true heart of faith!
As you pray…
Would you prayerfully consider helping The Fellowship? Take a few minutes today and ask the Lord whether He would have you share with us regarding the financial needs of this ministry. God supplies all our needs, and He does so through friends who share our vision and benefit from our ministry. It’s easy to give to The Fellowship of Ailbe, and all gifts are, of course, tax-deductible. You can click here to donate online through credit card or PayPal, or send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452.
T. M. Moore, Principal
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Da Paor, p. 107.