Raising Your Expectations

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full,” (John 10:10 NIV).

 When I was in my early twenties, I did not have great expectations for what my marriage would be like, if I ever walked the aisle at all. My parents had a tumultuous relationship from my earliest remembrance. Cycles of heated arguments and physical violence followed by silence and passive aggression were as predictable as the seasons. The atmosphere in our home was tense. It was as if I lived on an earthquake fault line, never knowing when the “big one” was going to hit. There were many “big ones.”

I became a Christian when I was fourteen and resolved that if I ever got married, it would be to a man who loved Jesus with all his heart. Through the years, I dated many Christian young men. In my young mind, most of them were not very much fun.

So I had a conversation with God that went something like this: “OK God, if I ever get married, it will be to a Christian man. I’m committed to that. I won’t give a guy a second glance unless he is a man who loves You with all his heart. It is not enough for him to say that he is a Christian.

I want to see it in the way he lives his life, the way he uses his words, and the way he relates to other people. I’m going to pay attention to what he laughs at, what he watches on television, and how he handles anger. I know what I’m asking here. I know what I’m getting into. I realize that I most likely won’t feel very passionate about this guy. I know that my life will probably be rather dull, boring, and lackluster. But that’s OK. I’m holding out for a Christian man, no matter how humdrum and ho-hum he may be. If I like him pretty well, that’s enough for me.”

Oh my goodness! Talk about low expectations! I’m sure God got a big kick out of my request.

Here’s what happened several years after that “prayer.”  When I was twenty-two, I returned to college to further my education. A young man from my hometown had a Bible study at his apartment and invited me to attend.  When I walked in, I saw a young dental student sitting cross-legged on the floor and leaning up against the wall. His dark chocolate eyes looked up at me as he said, “Hi.” I melted in a puddle.

After a few weeks, Steve finally asked me out on a date. But the venue of our rendezvous confirmed what I had expected all along.

“There is a missionary from Jackson, Mississippi speaking over at Murphy Hall,” he explained. “I’d like to go hear him. Would you like to go with me?”

Well that certainly lined up with my expectations! Steve was handsome; no doubt about that. He was a Christian, that was for sure. But going to hear a missionary on our first date? He was going to be boring after all. But hey, what did I expect? (Now remember, I was young. I love missionaries! I am one! Just keeping it real.)

When he came to pick me up for our date, I wasn’t quite ready. My apartment mate welcomed him and directed him to the sofa to wait. While he perused the scattered magazines on the coffee table, some of my favorite music played on the stereo. In the South, we call it beach music. It’s a type of 60s R&B Motown music.

When I finally emerged from my primping, Steve looked up and asked, “Do you like that kind of music?”

“Sure do,” I replied. (I must say I said it with an attitude of “and you gotta problem with that?”)

“I do too,” Steve said. “I have an entire collection. Do you know how to Shag (a traditional Southern dance similar to a slow version of the Swing)?

I think I heard God laugh.

“I’ve been dancing the Shag since I was in the fifth grade,” I said.

“Let’s see if we do it the same way,” he said as he grabbed my hand.

For twenty minutes, we separated and came together as if we had been dancing together all our lives. He held my hand up and I spun under. He pulled me in and then rolled me out like a scroll. His shuffle kick mirrored my own.

You know what? We did go and hear the missionary on that crisp fall night in 1979. And afterwards, we went to a favorite college hangout on the Campus of UNC the Universityof North Carolinaat Chapel Hilland danced until the doors closed. We had fun, and we haven’t stopped having fun yet. We have grown in God’s grace, and we’ve graced the dance floor. Steve is the most funnest guy I have ever known, and he loves the Lord with all his heart. And to think I actually was ready to settle for a just a nice Christian guy. God exceeded my expectations beyond all I ever could have asked or imagined.

But this isn’t just about my love story with Steve. It is about my love story with Jesus. It is about yours too. And like my silly twenty-something prayer for a mediocre-but-nice husband, I fear we have lowered our expectations in our relationship with God. [tweetherder][/tweetherder]He longs for an intimacy with us that ushers in a deep abiding joy, but I’m afraid we’ve settled for simply nice.

Are you ready to raise your expectations in your relationship with Jesus? Oh sister, He got so much to show you, to tell you, to share with you. Don’t settle for “just nice.” Jesus is much more exciting than that!

 Let’s Pray

Dear Jesus, forgive me for having such low expectations in our relationship. I know that You came to give me abundant life, not a so-so life. Today, I’m raising my expectations of life to line up with Your word. I’m expecting the abundant life that  You came to give! In Your Name, Amen

 Now It’s Your Turn

Look up Zephaniah 3:17 and enjoy!

 God wants you to enjoy Him today! Look for moments of sudden glory where he makes His presence known and then tell me about it. Leave a comment and  tell me how you experienced God TODAY! Don’t forget to come back!!!

 Want More? 

My new book, A Sudden Glory: God’s Lavish Response to Your Ache for Something More, is all about raising your expectations to experience the full, abundant life that Jesus came to give. If you’ve settle for a ho-hum, so-so, Christian life, it is time to start enjoying the abundant life Jesus came to give. God wants you to experience His presence every day through moments of sudden glory where He makes His presence known. Ready to get started? Download a free sample chapter or watch the videos on my

25 Responses to Raising Your Expectations

  1. Yvonne Chase November 1, 2012 at 11:49 am #

    Hi Sharon,

    I experienced God today when I opened my inbox to read this devotional on my birthday. I can really relate to your prayer around marriage. While my prayer is the same, I expect to feel very passionate about him and I expect my life with him to be bright, exhilirating and brilliant. My expectations are high!

    Thank you for keeping me on the path of high expectations with this post. I’ll be sure to report back when I meet my Steve.

    God bless you and your ministry. Be sure to stop by my website later to read today’s entry. I included your prayer in it.

    • Sharon November 1, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

      HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Bonnie November 1, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

    Hello Sharon,

    Today’s Girlfriends devotional hit home for me. I am almost 43 & facing a divorce from my husband, who was also my best friend – that will be final 11/30. We were married 14 years. He is a musician and has always craved & wanted attention & freedom to call all the shots in his life. But he also likes the comfort of a relationship and in many ways was a wonderful husband. Sadly, he still has not found that acceptance & freedom in the Lord though he is saved. And there I was coming into the marriage with awful trust issues and a bondage of fear as big as the state we live in. As you can imagine being married to that situation was difficult for us both. There was also infidelity and I tried to stay and forgive & pray & believe.

    BUT The Lord used this marriage to help me face every fear I had and now I am free, and healed. That is probably the most precious thing that has come from all of this, God is so good.

    I love the Lord deeply & richly, and I desire a man who does too. I do love to have fun though and would rather stay single than marry a stick in the mud. I feel strongly the Lord has another man for me, one who will appreciate & cherish me & love Him with me.

    This devotional made my heart & hope jump straight in the air. I cried as I read it. I know He used you to encourage me today Sharon that he has a wonderful man for me, and will exceed my heart’s desire.

    Thank you so much for sharing your life with all of us.

    God bless you!

    Bonnie Orr

  3. Denice Curtis November 1, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    Hi Sharon,
    Your post brought tears to my eyes. Fourteen years ago I had the same conversation with God. I had been a single mother for more than 15 years and had just become a Christian. I had prayed to God that if He ever wanted me to get married again, I wanted to meet an educated Christian man. Those were my only requirements. Because God has a sense of humor, I met this very big, non-attractive Christian engineer who immediately asked me out. I said: Thanks, but no Thanks I said to God…did I forget to tell you that he needs to be a little bit attractive :)? Few months later, my husband, a single 50 year old dentist (never married) who had been attending my new church for several years was introduced to me by my Pastor and the rest is history. I praise our wonderful Matchmaker!
    I am a faithful reader of your guy’s devotionals. Thanks for coming to my heart and house every day.

  4. Sue Jones November 1, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    Hi Sharon,
    I am in my 50’s and previously had Great Expectations! So Great that everyone made fun of me. I am an actress and played lots of roles at my church, since my acting was a gift from the Lord, I wanted to keep it in the church. LOL … well, because circumstances beyond my control, God removed me from that ministry and closed it down! We then went through some horrific family tragedies that tested me and I lost all faith in the Lord. Well, through counseling and love, God brought much healing. I am back on the right path. … I’m sure you hear ‘a but’ coming … and you do … now I have that expectation of … if I could just have a ‘nice life’ I would be happy… BUT … I found Girlfriends in God Today, because of Beth Jones-Schall. And now I can’t wait to see what God is going to do today, tomorrow, and the rest of my life!

  5. Kristi Dunkle November 1, 2012 at 4:32 pm #

    Hi Sharon,
    I just wanted to say that today’s devotion really hit home with me. Even though I am 42 years old. I was in an abusive, loveless marriage for 18 years and have now been divorced for 3 1/2 years. I have been praying for a Godly man to fill that empty void I have. Recently I have reconnected with a man that I went to High School with. He has always been a kindred spirit and after reconnecting I thought “Okay God this is it…..he is a Christian man, loves the Lord and we are perfect for each other” but I did also pray that if we were not meant to be anything more than friends that God would just protect my heart and shut the relationship down right now. Well suprise suprise and not the kind I wanted, after being friends for over a year now and spending alot of time together, I am all of a sudden alone and not hearing from my friend. I was totally depressed for 3 days and then after reading your devotion today I remembered that prayer that I have prayed to God continually to protect my heart if it isn’t right. It’s hard to feel the pain of losing a friend – even if it might be temporary – but I know now that God was answering my prayer and He has something better in mind for me. Thank you for your service to the Lord and for always having those uplifting devotions that touch me so often. Please pray for my continued comfort and patience in waiting for that special someone that God has for me.

  6. Mary Harris November 1, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

    Zeph 3:17 has been a Scripture God has given to me over and over again. I kept getting a feeling of rejection from someone in ministry after texting her the last week. I pressed in and knew in my spirit it was nothing about me. After praying in the spirit this morning the Lord had me text her this morning and tell her that she was heavy on my mind the last two weeks and that I prayed in the spirit for her. She replied I appreciate that, we left the church two weeks ago. We are going to talk tonight. By hearing through Gods filter through praying in the spirit I was able to, in His strength, reach out to and minister.
    Thanks for you recent devotionals on rejection.
    Mary Harris

  7. Paula November 1, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

    Hi Sharon,
    Thank you for today’s devotional. I also cam from an explosive chidhood, where there was aruging and fighting. I was always nervous when I heard my parents voices raise above normal because I knew fighting was coming next. What a terrible way to live. I left home at 18 for college and never returned to live with my parents again. I had a disaterous marriage but was blessed with a daughter out of it. Just came out of a 10 year relationship that my therapist labeled as toxic. During that time my relationship with God grew very cold. I still believed in Him but not like I had before. Now I feel like such a big disappointment to HIm and even though He still bless me tremendoulsy I just want to believe that He not disappointed in me and I am going to be all that he created me to be. You have been such a blessing to me. It seem as the last few devotions have hit home, so again Thank You for yoru ministry to woman like me everywhere. I look forward to being a Girfriend for a long time.

  8. Vonnie Kronk November 1, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

    I experienced God yesterday & I have to tell you How-I had prayed early yesterday knowing it was a going to be a different day at my Senior Care place being Halloween & I was stronger than I have ever been and Bussier too! I had a Great day & I will for sure later today experience God again I know.

  9. Nancy Beneteau November 1, 2012 at 6:31 pm #

    HI Sharon
    Well I’m not sure if this is it but today after walking away from an ultrasound I had on my whole abdomen, I sensed God walking with me. I was talking to Him and asking him what’s up with this latest health scare of mine. It is 95% confirmed that I am diabetic. I am to see my doctor later tonight for her to make a formal clinical diagnosis as she waits for one more test. She’s also looking into kidney issues. This has all frazzled and worried me. I’ve been talking to God ever since Monday when the doctor called me. With trying to redirect my marriage and financial problems, live with an unbelieving, sefl depressed husband I just don’t know how to take all this news from my doctor. I am trusting in The Lord but it is really not easy to just not worry. As I walked, I talked then I would just be silent. It’s almost as if the winds whispered his words “whatever it is I will hold you hand” I’m not so scared. I won’t lie I am anxious about the results of these last few tests but I think I have it more together now. I had walked for a long time alone with my thoughts and God. He walked with me today. I also felt him tell me to stop and take a bus home cause I was planning on walking further. It’s a good thing I listened cause I’m wiped out now!

  10. Amy Cefoldo November 1, 2012 at 8:01 pm #

    I am participating in National Novel Writing Month. I have been praying for God to bring a verse or two to be what I land on this month as I struggle to write 50k by the 30th. This morning when I opened my Bible I landed on Isaiah 41:10 “Do no fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am you God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” I felt the Lord say not to be afraid because He is with me and the words will come. Then this afternoon as I wrote that verse as my header so I would see it every time I went to a new page the Lord brought great inspiration for the story to write…which I hadn’t had until today! God is so good!!

  11. Megan November 1, 2012 at 8:15 pm #

    Hi Mrs. Jaynes,
    Thank you for this devotion! As I was at school today, my heart was heavy with the lonliness I feel during class sometimes and I asked God to make today different. I asked that He would fill me with His genuine joy and that I would see Him at work. When I got home from school I read this and I started crying tears of happiness because I know He had me read about raising my expectations so that I could draw closer to Him!! 🙂 Thank you for your wonderful entries that God is using for His glory to change lives! 🙂

  12. Julie November 1, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

    He’s playing one of “our songs” as I’m typing this. World stops when our songs come on. As I read this devotion today I was reminded of an EXTREMELY special time I had with him 2 years ago. Just remembering it made me want to draw closer to him. He also showed up today minutes before our Bible study topic about God’s Hedge- talked about Job and other verses which I needed from some stoms going through.

  13. Donna Berry Kirk November 1, 2012 at 10:48 pm #

    Sharon,
    Thank you so much for this devotional. I was raised also in an abusive and violent home. I graduated high school at the age of 16 and went to college. I have been saved since the age of 13. I distanced myself from God during my early twenties and fell in love with a non Christian. We had two beautiful children. My ex left my children and I to move home with his parents when our children were 11 months and 3 years old. I have been divorced and not even on a date the last thirteen years. Raising and providing for my children have been my main focus. I too have prayed for a strong Godly Christian man. I have said since my divorce that if God wants to send me a Christian man-I am open to that. I truly believe that it has this has to be in God’s timing-not mine. However, I must say that I am very content and happy in my life right now so anything more would just be a bonus!
    Thanks again!

  14. Kristina November 2, 2012 at 12:49 am #

    I just wanted to say thank you for your writing I read every one that comes to my inbox. Your words are so incredibly encouraging to me. I started reading this one and felt like you were talking about me. I too had a rough upbringing and am currently in my mid to late 20’s with low expectations of a godly husband, if I ever get married at the rate I’m going. It’s like you were inside my head as you wrote this! I love the verse John 10:10. Thank you for bringing it to new light for me. I’m just so blessed and encouraged by your words and wanted to take the time to tell you how much I appreciate you. I know I’m not alone!

  15. John Larimer November 2, 2012 at 2:36 am #

    I enjoyed that devotional, Raising Your Expections, I liked the part where you said; I’m sure God got a big kick out of my request. I Couldn’t help but laugh with a Joy only God can appreciate. When reading your prayer I sensed a closeness to the Lord, A particular familiarity reserved especially for family and I sensed His Joy in you and I couldn’t help but laugh for Joy. Reading the rest of your story and seeing His Loveing arms embracing you in answering your prayer with much more then you could ever have expected filled my heart with Joy. And He reminds me of what He said ; That my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. I just love it when He touches my heart. I thank Him for His faithfulness towards uswards. <3

  16. Seun November 2, 2012 at 10:01 am #

    I know God is able to exceed our expectations… but i’v never experience that in my life. I had great expectations about my career but now i’m just doing something to get along. I had expectations of a handsom man butpeople said I’m lucky to have but he is below my desire- far below!
    I believe God, Jesus is real but in places that really matters i’v not experience HIm. its real sad and disheartening. Maybe Ikm not just what He wants. I pray and try to live my life to please Him but He has changed my life to be mediocre
    I hurt and cry daily

  17. Melissa November 2, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

    I loved this! God really does exceed our expectations and even our wildest dreams. I too prayed for a husband and a healthy relationship, and as I got older I figured God had other plans. Then one day, when I least expected it, I met the kindest, strongest, most loving man in His creation. We are blessed to be celebrating our anniversary this month and have grown together in the Lord over time. God always answers our prayers in His good time!

  18. Mary November 8, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

    My sudden glory happened this morning when it clicked on Facebook and the first thing I saw was a message from my daughter to her husband:
    I love you!
    They have had a rough road all along but this year especially, It was not looking good and my daughter had A LOT she had/needed to forgive him for.
    So to see her say I love brought tears to my eyes and thankfulness to God, for it is only by His grace that she can forgive and say I love you!

  19. Alena November 8, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

    Hi I experienced God today! He woke me up at 3:00am to spend time with him (and little did I know provided a time for me to encourage and minister to my son!!!). My oldest son was on my mind, when I first woke up and I spent some time in prayer and just thinking about him and what hes going through, I was sitting alone in my living room when I heard someone get up and go use the bathroom…I sat there quietly and here comes my son walking around the corner. God provided a time of uninteruption (we’re a big family a total of 9 of us, its hard to get quite time with any one person at a time…lol) I allowed the Holy Spirit to guide me as I encouraged my son and talked to him about the Awesome God we serve!! Yes!! I see God working in me and my familys life!!!

  20. Ty Evans November 8, 2012 at 5:07 pm #

    Hi Sharon, I experienced God this morning at very moment when I was about to get upset and blow a fuse. He spoke to me and said: It’s ok. I thought to myself, it is ok. What I have asked and prayed for in secrect, God is going to make sure I get what I asked of Him. I’m thankful that He spoke to me, reassuring me that He got this, ain’t no need to get upset and miss out on what God has in store for us. Glory be to God! He is worthy to be praised, rather you be mad or happy, give God the honor he deserves.

  21. renaye November 9, 2012 at 1:15 am #

    what’s up girlfriends in God!

    my experience today was an outburst of tears. I have been waking up and just praising the Almighty One through it all. i just been saying things like “the job is crazy” Thank you Lord. “my friends are going through” Thank you Lord. “The traffic is riduculous” Thank you Lord. No matter I keep praising him, for nothing else HE IS WORTHY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Keep up the ministry girls, I share your stories and words of encouragement on my job, my bible study, my emails, even to strangers. God is Great. Always be Blessed

  22. Francis November 9, 2012 at 3:58 am #

    I experienced my sudden glory this morning when I opened the door and saw what a beautiful day it was. About a year and a half ago I was in a hospital bed with pneumonia. I was in there for a week. My little girl, who was 9, had to stay with my mom so my sisters could take her to school. My son who was 22 stayed at home because he needed to work and go to college. He would look after his sister in his free time and go see me at the hospital everyday. My mom said he would cry for me and felt alone. Through this experience God brought us all closer and my son got saved. Everyday I open the door and thank God for another beautiful day with my children in my home. God is great and though we go through trials he promises to be with us and work all things for His glory.

  23. Jehrica Marini November 9, 2012 at 8:21 pm #

    PRAISE THE ONE AND ONLY LORD GOD ALMIGHTY for HIS GRACE MERCY AND COMPASSION AND MIGHTY SAVING HAND! I experienced a sudden glory moment earlier today as I was praising God on the treadmill in the garage.. I was pouring out my praise and petitions to Him (Philippians 4) and although it was a sunless, cloudy day light suddenly shown through the windows of my garage and I knew it was HIS loving-kindness, HIS PRECIOUS, ADORABLE HOLY SPIRIT saying GOD IS LOVE (1 John 4:16) and it made me smile because I knew my PRECIOUS HEAVENLY FATHER GOD IS undeniably and relentlessly looking out for me!

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