Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 84; 150, Reading Genesis 48:8-22, Romans 8:11-25, John 6:27-40
How often does life unfold the way we expect? It’s a question without a truly quantifiable answer, but one suspects: far less than we’d like.
Jacob was a very old man when he met his grandsons Ephraim and Manasseh. The lives of Jacob and his family, particularly his son Joseph, were full of twists and turns, deception and separation. Many of these familial wounds were self-inflicted, such as when Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery and faked his death. They didn’t like his predictions that one day he – the youngest – would rule over them, and ironically their actions set him on a convoluted path to power over not only themselves but all of Egypt.
When Joseph presented his two sons to Jacob for a blessing, the surprises continued. Joseph had positioned them so the older boy, Manasseh, was at Jacob’s right hand, traditionally the hand of greater blessing reserved for the oldest son. Jacob crossed his hands and – despite Joseph’s protests – instead gave the greater blessing to Ephraim, who was destined to father a “multitude of nations.”
Hard to believe the prophetic Joseph didn’t see it coming. After all, he was the youngest when his brothers betrayed him. And Jacob was a younger son who’d stolen the blessing of his older brother by deceiving his blind father. Down the line, Jacob’s great-great-grandson Moses survived to lead the Israelites back out of Egypt and slavery because of deception surrounding his birth. The nation of Israel survived and thrived because God isn’t limited by human expectation.
Christ upended expectations as a messiah of peaceful submission rather than bloody revolt. He taught us God loves and forgives all the “wrong” people. Could it be that the thing standing between us and the fully realized kingdom of God is our own expectations? Perhaps God waits to meet us around those twists and turns we fear and avoid. Those apparent flaws we condemn in ourselves and others could be keys to grace. Some days the map of faith is nothing but detours. When we stop placing expectations on God, we learn to expect God everywhere.
Comfort: You don’t have to know God’s plan.
Challenge: You just have to be open to it.
Prayer: God of creation, I seek to meet you where you are, and not where I would demand you be. Give me eyes to see and ears to hear your presence wherever you would have me encounter you. Thank you for the wonder of life, and its countless unexpected blessings. Amen.
Discussion: What expectations are frustrating you right now? Are they necessary expectations? Is anything but ego making you hold onto them? If you let go of them, would your life be better?
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