The Big Reveal

June 14th, 2011
Photo © John Karakatsanis. Used under Creative Commons license.

In February, a years-old rumor came to fruition: The iPhone 4 came to Verizon Wireless. Until then the iPhone had been bound by an exclusivity contract with AT&T. Those who wanted the device but didn’t already have an AT&T mobile plan had two choices— switch to AT&T, or wait. And wait. And listen to the rumor mill, which every six months or so had indicated that another company was going to get the iPhone.

The first real sign that change was coming (and that there was hope for non-AT&T users) came in 2010, when Verizon announced that it would be offering plans with Apple’s new iPad. The eventual release of a Verizon iPhone seemed inevitable. And a few weeks ago, it finally became a reality. The Verizon iPhone was released to the public on February 10.

I Want to Go There

The corporate marketing machine is really good at what it does—making us want. The Internet tech blogs have been buzzing for years about the possible release of a non-AT&T iPhone. By February, cellular customers were already clamoring for the new phone, many preparing to pay exorbitant early termination fees on their existing cell phone contracts in order to be free to move to Verizon to get the new device. “It’s going to be amazing”—or so they anticipated.

And in truth, it is a cool phone. But it is just a phone. And there is no way to predict how this new relationship between Apple and Verizon will turn out. It may end up being a great arrangement that results in millions of happy customers. But what if, after a few months, we find that Verizon’s highly touted network can’t hold up under the strain of data demands from its new customer base?

We like to get excited about new things and new possibilities. But often our excitement leads to inflated expectations. We want things so badly that we aren’t prepared for the possibility that our expectations might fall flat. The problem is that these expectations are all about us and our priorities: what we want, what gets us excited, what will make our lives easier. And once we’ve bought into our own expectations, we have trouble accepting anything that contradicts them.

The Truth Will Set You Free

The problem with following our inflated expectations is that we end up relying on a notoriously unreliable source: ourselves. Job expected that someone like himself, who had been righteous and faithful, shouldn’t have to endure so much suffering. Jonah couldn’t imagine why God would save the wicked Ninevites, even after they repented (see Jonah 4). Martha expected that Jesus would scold her sister Mary for sitting and listening to him instead of helping with housework (see Luke 10:38-42). In all of these cases, human expectations didn’t match God’s plans and priorities.

We can all remember times when real life didn’t live up to our expectations. The shiny new gadget that we expected to solve all our problems isn’t as great as we hoped it would be; the party that we expected to be perfect didn’t go as planned; our moment in the spotlight didn’t bring the praise and adoration we anticipated. In most of these situations, our expectations were based on our wants and priorities and not on God’s will.

As Christians we are called to live differently, to live beyond the walls of our personal desires and expectations. We must resist the temptation to let our expectations run wild and instead train ourselves to focus on what God expects. When we do this, we will be able to see how God is at work during times of both excitement and disappointment.


This article is also published as part of LinC, a weekly digital resource for youth small groups and Sunday school classes. The complete study guide can be purchased and downloaded here. (Photo credit: John Karakatsanis via Flickr)

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