Setting expectations

Back in April I was posting on the chapters in the book Trust God by Jerry Bridges. I ended with chapters 5 and 6 and then didn’t come back to it here. I actually stepped away from that book, although not forgetting its lessons. But I am still struggling. Mostly I’m just not content – more like frustrated and irritated and impatient.

I’ve still been searching and praying and hoping it would all sink in, and the Holy Spirit would have something to work with to reform me. Some days my shortest prayer is “I believe, help my unbelief” but more often it’s just the short “Change me” that I throw out.

This month has been more of the same. The free audio book from Christian Audio last month was Hearing God by Dallas Willard. I downloaded it right at the end of the month and started listening. It’s been interesting because I am arguing with the book a little bit. Partly because I know that this is an author who is right on some things and not necessarily right on others. (I actually know that is true about all authors, and the good ones tell you that about themselves. But I’ve approached this book with extra care.) Perhaps I want to believe it so much I’m leery of the message.

Anyway, it’s made for great listening because I actually pay attention to it all and then journal and think and study to see how I really understand the points he’s making. For example, Dallas Willard was talking about the will of God and when something isn’t the will of God. For example, when someone sins or does something in direct contradiction to God’s word. A firm believer in God’s sovereignty over everything takes issue with that pretty easily. But I also understand where he is coming from. But for some reason this bugged me a bit, perhaps as I was struggling with my bout of lassitude and trying to clarify my role versus God’s will.

I turned first to Jerry Bridges – chapter 7 of Trusting God as a matter of fact. He has some vocabulary there to help as he states:

Our duty is found in the revealed will of God in the Scriptures. Our trust must be in the sovereign will of God…” p121

He actually started the chapter with this “The knowledge of His sovereignty is meant to be an encouragement to pray, not an excuse to lapse into a sort of pious fatalism.” p113

Then it gets even deeper. In my daily reading I’m back to the book of Job and we happen to have picked up a book on the book of Job by Derek Thomas. That book isn’t quite what I was expecting so far, but on the first page he points us to Calvin’s Institutes 1:15-18 so I pull down our version of the Institutes (thanks Beard!) and start wading into the deep end with Calvin. It’s on God’s providence and scripturally shows how all is under His sovereign control even when the person is clearly going against God’s revealed will.

Now, it sounds like I’ve gotten way off track, but I am struggling at work right now because I don’t like it, I don’t like the interruptions and the work load and the helpless feeling of not being able to accomplish good work and even when I do not having a moment to appreciate it before the next impossible problem comes along. But what Trusting God (and all kinds of resources and Bible reading over the past few years) has shown me is that I am wrong to be do discontented with where God has put me. And I want to fix that attitude. I want to love God so much that I will be happy wherever He has me.

Add on to all of that the fact that yesterday was a crummy day. I got very stressed out over 3 different things (all at once, so I was very efficient about it). My prayers were not very humble or God-honoring and I was quite disappointed at the end of the day (in my self). Will I never grow? We’ve (God and me) been working on this for awhile, surely I am trainable enough that I could change a little bit by now?

Well, my God is an awesome God (I love that song) and He speaks to me and sometimes, when I open my ears, I hear Him! (see, Dallas Willard is rubbing off on me already 🙂

This morning I got one of those emails from LinkedIn with links to articles you may find interesting. Often they are about computer security (I found one today I wish the entire Windows support team at work would read), or on how to treat your employees well, or how to manage your boss, or how to multitask (remember the rant on that earlier this month?).

Today there was an article on reducing stress. You better believe I clicked on that thing! And God spoke to me, like he was saying “if you won’t listen to Me this way, let me try another language”. Go ahead, click on the link and read it. It won’t take long and it’s a nice read. (Doesn’t it remind you a bit of what I learned about someone stepping on my story?)

By the way, I love the interview with Louis C.K. and I agree with him completely, but for some reason I still couldn’t translate it into my issues at work.

So, my new strategy (which is an old strategy, note the name of my blog) is to lower my expectations from perfection, change my expectations about what I’m supposed to get done every day, and get used to not getting what I want, except really I am seeking to change what I want so that when I get whatever I get, it’s what I wanted and I’m happy – content.

See, another book I have sitting here for a re-read is The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs and this is what I’m after:

Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.

I feel like a broken record, there is this post from earlier this year. But this topic is top of my “things I want changed” and I will keep working on this until I’m changed.

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