Thoughts on Expectations and Following Jesus

by Sarah Langness

I was pretty excited this past weekend to have a named winter storm headed our way. Gandalf was coming, and supposedly he was bringing a significant amount of snow, lots of strong winds, and some frigid temperatures. Since Gandalf was going to be so intense, I expected to hunker down inside: no morning walks with my baby boy, an increased consumption of hot beverages, dozens of cookies baked as the wind howled and snow fell; maybe even having my husband trapped inside and unable to go to work. No such luck: we only got a couple inches of snow and the wind didn’t seem extraordinarily fierce. I was able to walk on Friday morning after all. I didn’t drink more coffee than usual; I didn’t even make hot cocoa. I didn’t bake cookies. And Jordan still had to go to work. My expectations sure weren’t met.

I’ve been thinking a lot this past week about my expectations in regards to my service to Jesus. If you would have asked me ten years ago how I would be serving Jesus today as a 24-year-old, I don’t know what I would have said. Probably something lofty, obviously important, and amazing. Like living in Africa serving in an orphanage. Or working in a children’s ministry at a church alongside my youth-director husband. Or missionary service at a homeless shelter. Emily Freeman sums up my thoughts in her book Grace for the Good Girl:

“I am struck by how I have lived in a constant state of high expectation. I compared my current life to the one I thought I would be living. I compared my Jesus walk to the way it seemed it ought to be. I had clear ideas about what important Jesus work was supposed to look like, and it had nothing to do with cleaning the toilet.”

This past week, I’ve been challenged to change my thinking on what it means to follow Jesus. All too often, it is easy for me to focus on the big things, the obvious things, that people do to serve the Lord. But there are ways in which we are to serve the Lord that may go completely unnoticed by others. Like clamping our mouth shut when we want to participate in gossip. Like putting others’ needs before my own. Like bringing a meal to someone in need. Like getting to know my neighbor across the street and sharing Jesus’ love with them. Like giving more than I’m receiving. Like telling the truth instead of lying. Like not envying that couple’s house or those girls’ friendships. Like being the best mom I can be to my little Ezekiel and the best wife I can be to Jordan.

Jesus’ call to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow Him probably includes those huge, mountain-moving acts of faithful service like serving as a missionary in a foreign country. But I think, more applicable to the average Joe like me, it has to do with our daily living right here in HomeTown, USA. It might not seem as exciting or as important for the Kingdom – but it is.

However we serve, however we live, I pray that we would be working to hear these glorious words:

“‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.'” – Matthew 25:21