Shattering Our Expectations


Back in High School I went to camp at Lake Chautauqua Lutheran Center.  I would attend the yearly Senior High Camp and enjoy a week with new and old friends on beautiful Lake Chautauqua. I loved all of the fun and goofy things we got to do at camp, but my favorite part of each day was the closing devos.   Each night, we would gather together as a cabin and our counselor would lead us in some sort of activity that would help us to reflect on a passage of scripture and the day’s theme.  

I still remember, vividly, the devo that my counselor led during the summer after my Junior year.  It was the very first night of camp, the entire cabin had just arrived earlier that day and we were all still getting to know one another.   For devos that night our counselor had us walk into the woods where he gave each of us a small piece of paper and a pen.  We were all asked to write down our expectations for the week-- what we were hoping for, what we thought would happen, what we wanted to get out of the week. 

Next, our counselor passed around an empty glass bottle.  He asked us to share what we had written on the paper, and then place the paper into the bottle.  After all the “expectations” had been placed in the bottle, our counselor took it, and without saying anything, he walked a few paces away from the group, and placed the glass bottle, filled with all our written expectations into a bag, then he placed that bag on a stump. 

Then, still saying nothing, he took a large rock at the foot of the stump and smashed the bottle to pieces. 

The sound of shattering glass and the sheer volume of the event in the quiet of the woods caused a hushed silence to fall over the entire cabin group.  After a long pause, our counselor explained his actions: 

“All of us have a lot of expectations about this week.  We all expect this week at camp to be a certain way, or for certain things to happen, but we need to remember that God is in the business of shattering our expectations.” 

If nothing else, this was a good devo because I still remember it today.  But not only that, I think there is some real wisdom in my camp counselor’s words: that God completely shatters our expectations. 

“For the Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and gentiles, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” I Corinthians 1:22-24

Paul’s words from his letter to the Corinthian church remind us of just how unexpected God’s actions were on the cross.   When Jesus died on the cross it seemed as if all hope was lost, as if the entire Jesus movement was ended-- crushed by the Roman authorities.  But instead, God shattered everyone’s expectations by using the crucifixion to defeat death once and for all.  

As Christians we have a faith that is grounded in the idea that God will use the most unexpected ways and people to accomplish God’s Will.   And so, when you’re expecting the worse, or things seem hopeless , remember that God is more than capable of shattering your expectations.

May God shatter our expectations, again and again.  Amen.