Monday, June 21, 2010


“Reasonable expectations.” It's a tricky phrase, isn't it? I'm sure there are legal cases piled up in courtrooms across the country, debating what a jury deems “reasonable expectations” for contracted services, purchases and even relationships. Our family's reasonable expectation involved a baker, a cake, a wedding and 125 guests. Almost nine months ago, our daughter, Emily, and her fiancé met with the owner of a local bakery to discuss wedding cake options. They were impressed with the man's portfolio and tasted three flavors of cake and several delightful icings. They eagerly signed a contract, leaving the suggested cash deposit. Three months in advance of the wedding, the kids began confirming with the various vendors as was suggested by all the wedding magazines. When they called the bakery, a female voice answered and explained that she had purchased the original baker's business but would honor their deposit and try to do the cake as ordered. Try? Our daughter and her fiancé made a quick trip (4 hours) to the bakery to meet with the new owner and sample her wares. The flavor was adequate, but they were uneasy from the beginning with this new relationship. Fast-forward…to the wedding day. Excitement is mounting. Outdoor wedding. Rain – down-pour – two hours before the ceremony. Cake lady is MIA, AWOL – OMG! An hour late, she shows up. Crying. The middle tier of the 3-tiered cake is completely destroyed. Bumpy Indiana roads in her Jeep Cherokee, she says. Ugh. But here's the key. Two days before, my daughter and I had a “mommy/daughter” breakfast date, and Emily asked me this question: “Mom, are you ready for some BIG emergency on my wedding day?” When I gave her my puzzled stare, she continued. “'Cause you know something will go wrong, and we'll just have to roll with it.” After seeing the cake, I trudged back upstairs, to tell our baby girl that her dream cake was a nightmare. Would she remember her REASONABLE EXPECTATIONS of at least one disaster on this day? She did, and her groom handled it beautifully, too. The skies cleared – no more rain. No more disasters. What are your reasonable expectations?

Gen. 29:14b-20 – “Laban said to [Jacob], 'Just because you are a relative of mine, should you work for me for nothing? Tell me what your wages should be.' Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful. Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, 'I'll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.' Laban said, 'It's better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.' So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her. (emphasis added)
  • From the sound of Laban's lack-luster response, I'm thinking he wasn't thrilled when Jacob proposed Rachel as wages. Wasn't it more reasonable to pay wages in silver or gold, flocks or herds – even servants? But daughters? Laban may have asked for Jacob's input, but it seems he had a pre-determined idea of what was reasonable and he found it difficult to adjust to someone else's plan. Sound familiar?
Gen. 29:21 – “Then Jacob said to Laban, 'Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to lie with her.'”
  • What might have happened during Jacob's seven years of service to Laban that changed Jacob's tone so completely? The demanding words and voice lead us to believe Jacob might have expected Laban to double-cross him...and he was right. But is a tantrum justified when others threaten our expectations?
Gen. 29:22-30 – “So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and gave her to Jacob, and Jacob lay with her. And Laban gave his servant girl Zilpah to his daughter as her maidservant. When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, 'What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn't I? Why have you deceived me?' Laban replied, 'It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. Finish this daughter's bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.' And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. Laban gave his servant girl Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her maidservant. Jacob lay with Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years.”
  • Even though Jacob expected it, Laban found a way to double-cross him. Sometimes people live up to our low expectations, and the pain crashes into our lives and others' – creating dominoes of expectations for generations. How did Leah feel when her new husband railed at being “stuck” with her? How did Rachel feel at being passed over because she was the younger sister? When reasonable expectations are dashed, it's seldom only one person who is hurt.
Lord, when I'm disappointed, teach me to turn to You for comfort first – before I rant and rail. Give me perspective. Show me Your heavenly view of REASONABLE before I allow my self-justification to bully those who might be harmed in the stampede. Help me to mourn my lost expectations, allowing You to comfort me in the true and real grief I feel. Finally, as I regain my sense of Your presence, help me to minister to others – now more effective because I've felt the sting of dashed expectations and the touch of Your comfort.

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