We One of the most subtle enemies of spiritual vitality is the influence of others' expectations of us. The world expects us to continually seek after possessions or prestige or to always fill our time with busy activity, whether meaningful or not. How often do we allow the world's expectations of us to dictate our spiritual lives as well? How often do we act in order to please others rather than because we want to please God? Sometimes, pleasing God may actually require that we disappoint others because we cannot fulfill their demands of us.
Breaking free from others' expectations
Solitude helps us break free from others' expectations. It puts us in a place where we can see more clearly what the world is asking of us. In solitude we are more able to evaluate these expectations in relation to God:s desires for us and to decide which demands should and should not be fulfilled.
Following one of the busiest days -and nights-of his ministry, Jesus "awoke long before daybreak and went out alone into the wilderness to pray" (Mark 1:25). When the disciples came looking for Jesus to take him back to town, for the people had been asking for him, he told them instead that they must go on to other towns.
Refusing the best intentions of others
Similarly, when he fed five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fishes, they all wanted to make him King. They expected Him to give them back the kingdom delivering them from Roman rule. But the Lord did not want to submit to their wishes and avoided them. He knew very well why He came into the world and what He has to do and how long. He did not even give them food the second time when they came back seeking for him, but exhorted them to seek for eternal life. He never did what people always wanted but was concerned about what they really needed.
Kowing Your destiny
This week is popularly known as the Passion week, as the Lord enters Jerusalem to be tested, persecuted and finally crucified by the Jewish rulers. When the Lord Jesus foretold about these things, Peter expressed his displeasure and wanted to stop him. Yet the Lord refused to be hindered from anybody from doing God's will for which He was born. He steadfastly looked towards the cross because by it He was going to accoomplish the salvation of mankind. Satan, the arch enemy of God and man, tried his best to stop the Lord from going to the cross, but the Lord was totally prepared to do His Father's will. Even at the last opportunity He had to escape the death of the cross, Lord Jesus chose to accept the cup of sufferings in the garden of Gethsemane.
Opportunity and success did not dictate Jesus' direction, God did. His time alone helped him to be directed by God alone.
Practical tip: When do you feel most vulnerable to others' expectations? What specifically do you feel people expect of you? What do you do when the world's demands are pressing in on you? Spend sometime alone into prayerful reflection and respond to each of those expectations as you feel God would address them. You may say, for example, "Others expect me to solve their problems for them. But God seems to say to me, ' Let me solve other people's problems. Sometimes I will use you to encourage and support them.But sometimes I want you to leave them alone so they will turn to me."
Letter # 12 (28. 3. 2010)