Disappointing

Sometimes we look for what we think is the big, obvious culprit when it comes to problems or issues in our lives. The other day, I was cutting the grass with my riding mower. Suddenly, the mowing attachment started labouring, smoke started pouring out from underneath the motor, and the whole thing simply quit.

I was annoyed. I was worried. I did quick calculations in my brain: how much it would cost to replace the tractor, and more importantly, how many hours would it take to push mow our property until I could afford another tractor? Forever seemed an appropriate answer to the latter.

ImageI disconnected the mower assembly from underneath the tractor, and discovered that one of the blades was seized. It would not spin. The tractor itself was fine, but the pulley from the engine was spinning inside a stationary lawnmower belt. The friction on the belt is where the smoke was coming from.

What I initially reacted to wasn’t really the problem in the end. It wasn’t until I looked under the “hood” then I discovered the real issue. I’m glad I did because it is something that should be relatively inexpensive to fix, and something I can do myself.

Now I will awkwardly transition this to spiritual things. There is a well hidden culprit that steals spiritual health and vitality from believers in Christ. This culprit is disappointment.

Disappointment is so subtle. It can creep in very quickly. Of course, disappointment cannot exist on its own. It must be attached to something else: a promise, a dream, an opportunity, a commitment, a vow. Disappointment can happen whenever expectations are not met. With this in mind, I suspect that Christians are ripe targets for disappointment. I should probably clarify this by stating that Christians from affluent Western societies are ripe targets for disappointment. Despite the irony, I believe this is true. I have heard stories of believers living in difficult persecuted regions who are strangely much less susceptible.

We tend to have high expectations when it comes to church, ministry, faith, prayer, healing, hope and life, etc. We like to expect the biggest, the brightest and the best. However, are we as well prepared when we end up getting the smallest, the dim and the mediocre? I doubt I am the only one who has felt this way. We have seen sad losses in recent years. Why are we witnessing so many leaving churches, leaving marriages and leaving the ministry? Could a simple answer be our inability to process disappointment?

Any attempt to answer this question requires further work. It has far reaching implications on our faith journey, for disappointment will surely come knocking. It is too good a tactic for the enemy of our souls not to employ regularly.

“Whatever men expect they soon come to think they have a right to: the sense of disappointment can, with very little skill on our part, be turned into a sense of injury.”

This wise counsel was offered to a young demon, by his seasoned uncle in C.S. Lewis’, The Screwtape Letters.

How many of us walk injured, even if it be by perception only? A Christian walking injured by disappointment is little more effective than a garden tractor with one spinning blade. We may still get the work done, but only half-way, taking twice as long, with little joy. Surely we can expect better than this?

There is much more to unravel, and so I must leave it here for now without adequate closure. At the very least I hope it provokes a thought, am I walking injured? An honest question like this one may lead to discover what the real issue is under the hood. I am not a fan of unnecessary digging, but when the blades stop spinning and you see smoke, it is time to hit the brake and take notice.

So, I hope this post has not proved to be a disappointment. If so, please do not mention it, for it would be far too disappointing.

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