Summary: July 1989. When others disappoint us, it is often because they do not meet our expectations, and anger is natural. God feels that about us. But God allows us to reap the consequences of our sin in Christ’s cross takes into Himself that burden and transf
He was a fuzzy-faced young man with a twangy West Virginia accent and an angular chin as craggy as the hills from which he had come. You had to notice him, small though he was, because he carried a Bible as big as the side of a barn and painted in the same bright fiery color. It was obvious that he had cane to college with a strong sense of mission. Mike was out to change the world, he was out there to witness to every student who got in his path and not a few of the professors too. You had to admire the zeal and the energy he brought to the task.
But it wasn’t long before some disturbing signs began to show up. I was conducting a Bible study one evening, and noticed some kind of whispering going on over in the corner. Mike and his roommate were huddled over that big red Bible, and Mike’s finger was tracing some words along the page. Mike’s head was shaking a vigorous "No, no, no." And so I of course asked what the problem was. Both Mike and his roommate looked up sheepishly, and finally Mike stammered out, "Well, you said … but the Bible says …"
"You said…, but the Bible says …" That got to be a recurring theme over the next few months. Practically anything I said Mike found a way to challenge. Almost anything I did he objected to, but quietly, behind the scenes, where it was hard to discuss or to clarify. I began to realize that we were locked into some sort of struggle, that it was more than theological disagreement, but now was a power struggle. And I didn’t have a clue as to what to do about it.
It got worse. I got wind that Mike had hooked up with some folks at another church in town, and that together they were forming a rival Christian group, that they were already trying to take students out of our Baptist Student Union. They were forming what they chose to call a "real Bible-believing group" Ouch!
You can imagine how disappointed I was in Mike and those students. I thought I had invested a whole lot of time and energy and love, and now they treat me this way! I was really disappointed. And, you know, to be betrayed in the name of God, that is really disappointing. If you don’t think it feels horrible for somebody to rebel against you and use God’s name to justify it, well, just ask Archbishop Hickey this morning what he feels about Father Stallings!
The climax to it all came one night when I entered our Baptist Student center; I had not planned to be there that night, but I was driving by and saw the lights on, and wondered what was going on. When I walked in there was Mike and his roommate, and they were writing allover the chalkboard, such wonderful uplifting slogans as “My word shall not return unto me void." "Earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.” "All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for reproof." The word “reproof” was underlined twice.
Obviously he was sending me a message, and I had to respond. I could not any longer pretend that the message wasn’t there, I had to express my disappointment in him and he had to give vent to his disappointments about me. It was an electric moment. And though we talked for more than two hours about the things which separated us, I never got the feeling we solved anything. In fact during the next two years we pretty much went our separate ways: me working with and enlisting for the Baptist Student Union, he and the folks at that other church working just as hard enlisting students for their group, most of them students I had already enlisted for my group.
Disappointment, deep and mutual disappointment. And it hurt.
I would guess that there is no one here this morning who has not been disappointed by someone else. Nothing is more universal than to have expectations of someone and to find out that those hopes, those expectations, are not being met. And that is not just a human issue, not just a feelings issue; it’s a spiritual issue too. It’s a spiritual issue because when we are disappointed in somebody it kicks up in us some things that are not pretty. It makes us want to do things and say things that are not especially Christlike. And the prophet Hosea discovered that in his very human, very real, disappointment, there was much that he could learn about what God feels about us.
You see, one of the basic ideas in Hosea’s prophecy is that God does feel about us. God does care about what we do and what we are like; God is concerned with our loyalty. But Hosea saw, I think more deeply than anyone else, that God is hurt when we are not what He intended us to be. God feels a keen pain when we are less than His hopes for us. But more than that, God shows us how to channel those feelings, how to make something positive happen with our disappointments.