Summary: What do we do when our enthusiasm comes to a screeching halt?
“The Charge of the Light Brigade: When the Enthusiasm Dies”
The team has prepared all season for this game. In fact, the season all boils down to this moment. Win and you’re the champions – lose and you go home. You’re confident, because you’ve worked hard, won all the big games to get here, and you have the best talent and a great game plan. Then the coach gives the best motivational talk you’ve ever heard and the team rushes out of the locker room certain of victory. But there was another team playing – they, too, were ready. They fire the opening salvo, get on top, and never look back. The final score wasn’t even close. The disappointment is even greater because the expectations were so high. You’re angry with yourself, your teammates, your coaches, and even God. You promise yourself that you will never let yourself get so motivated and enthusiastic again – you just don’t want to feel the pain.
Have you ever felt that way? Perhaps not in a sporting event, but in some other experience. Your great expectations only led to great disappointment. We’ve all been there. The question is, “What do we do when our enthusiasm comes to a screeching halt?” Let’s join Moses and the Israelites to see what we can learn.
First, we acknowledge that GOD’S PEOPLE ARE often FILLED WITH GREAT EXPECTATIONS (4:27-5:3). That’s what chapter 3-5 in Exodus are all about. Even in slavery, GOD FILLED ISRAEL WITH GREAT EXPECTATIONS. Remember that Moses had met with God through a burning bush that did not burn up. God promised Moses that He would do miraculous wonders through him - miracles that would force Pharaoh to let the Israelites go free. So Moses immediately met with all the Elders and shared his experience with and message from God. Aaron, Moses’ brother and spokesperson, related how God had proved himself to them by turning Moses’ rod into a serpent and then back again, by turning Moses’ hand leprous and then back again, by turning water into blood and then back again. Even though it was hard to believe, the Elders were excited – for the first time in a long time they dared to hope. As they dispersed from their meeting with Moses the good news spread from hut to hut; it was whispered from slave to slave; all the message grapevines were activated. Hope was high, the excitement exhilarating, and all the people exuded enthusiasm. They began to dream. With pulsating hearts, Moses and Aaron were primed to meet with Pharaoh; victory was within their grasp. So chapter 4 ends with these words: “…and when they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.”
God has always filled His people with great expectations. He told Abraham he would father a great nation and be a blessing to the world. He told David he would be the king of an eternal dynasty. He told the prophets to declare that One was coming who would save Israel and make her the nation among all the nations – a light to the world. On Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit filled the new community of Christians, Peter quoted the prophets by saying that sons and daughters would prophesy, young men would see visions, and old men would dream dreams. Paul wrote that through the resurrection power within us God would do immeasurably more than we could ever dare to ask or think.
The good news is that GOD STILL FILLS HIS PEOPLE WITH GREAT EXPECTATIONS. Christians enter into marriage relationships with pledges of everlasting commitment and love. They build businesses with visions of having a successful witness in the business community. Christians graduate and enter the job market with dreams of making a difference for Christ in the world. They enter into coaching or teaching or ministry with every expectation of impacting young lives. Hope Church launched into a building program in response to much prayer and discernment. We have a mission-driven vision of escorting people into the presence of Christ, to be a community of refuge and healing - a body of people who will share Christ’s love, shine Christ’s light, and shape Christ’s people. And you can add your expectations. God continually fills his people with great expectations.
Yet the reality is that often GREAT EXPECTATIONS OFTEN CRASH INTO DISAPPOINTMENT (5:4-23). Christian marriages break down and fall apart. Christian businesses fail and shut down. Young Christian graduates fail to find jobs or never seem to advance their dreams. Coaches, teachers, and ministers find that impacting lives doesn’t often happen easily, and that criticism comes far too easily. After launching the building program the economy turns sour. And how many church visions have turned into dust and ashes? Great expectations often crash into disappointment.