Aug 222010

Everyone has expectations. Expectations help to make sense of an uncertain world. It helps you to gain some peace of mind by predicting how the future will turn out. The danger lies in having rigid expectations. When you are inflexible in your expectations, it means you are no longer in tune with the time and circumstances. Change is the only constant in life. Your expectations must change with the times to keep abreast with it. Those who are unable to do so will meet with dangers and difficulties.

The Flood

A man was trapped in his house during a flood. He began praying to God to rescue him. He had a vision in his head of God’s hand reaching down from heaven and lifting him to safety.

The water started to rise in his house. His neighbour urged him to leave and offered him a ride to safety. The man yelled back, “I am waiting for God to save me”. The neighbour drove off in his pick-up truck.

The man continued to pray and hold on to his vision. As the water began rising in his house, he had to climb up to the roof.

A boat came by with some people heading for safe ground. They yelled at the man to grab a rope they were ready to throw and take him to safety. He told them that he was waiting for God to save him. They shook their heads and moved on.

The man continued to pray, believing with all his heart that he would be saved by God. The flood waters continued to rise. A helicopter flew by and a voice came over a loudspeaker offering to lower a ladder and take him off the roof. The man waved the helicopter away, shouting back that he was waiting for God to save him. The helicopter left.

The flooding water came over the roof and caught him up and swept him away. He drowned.

When he reached heaven and asked, “God, Why did you not save me? I believed in you with all my heart. Why did you let me drown?”

God replied, “I sent you a pick-up truck, a boat and a helicopter and you refused it all. What else could I possibly do for you?!”


The man above believed that God would save him. But at the same time, he already pictured in his mind how God would do so. He refused to accept the idea that God might not save him in the way he envisioned. Meanwhile, God tried to save the man. The man had prayed sincerely and his faith was strong. Because of this, God heard him and answered his prayers. It must have come as a surprise to God each time the man refused salvation and prayed again for help. God didn’t want the faithful but odd man to die, so he tried to save him in three different ways. But each time the man refused salvation, the danger he was in grew. In the end, the man’s stubbornness got him killed.

If you cling rigidly to expectations, it can become a dead weight around your neck. Rigid expectations can cause you to be inflexible at the worst possible time. Even if the answer to your problem or a way out appeared in front of you, you might refuse to take it. Why? It could be a matter of principle or it could be due to the answer not conforming to your expectations somehow. When you lose your ability to adapt to changing circumstances, you will face grave danger.

Missed Opportunities

Because of his expectations, the man failed to see God’s plan for him. He failed to see God working through others to save him. Instead of acting quickly to seize the opportunities he had, the man didn’t see it as such and passed it up three times. His expectations blinded him to the obvious chances that God had given him to survive.

The window for opportunities is usually very small. Once you miss your chance, it is gone for good. Rigid expectations can cause you to miss the opportunities around you. When you have an idea of how things should be, you see the world through filters instead of seeing it as it is. It is so easy miss an opportunity when you do not see it as such.

Out of Touch with Reality

Although the man lived in a modern world, he expected out-of-the-world miracles. He simply could not believe that modern technology, which he took for granted, would provide the means for his salvation. It was too mundane and unspectacular. The man thought that his prayers signalled him out for special treatment. In the end, he was right but in the wrong way. While God easily saved the rest of the people, he had to make a special effort for the man. God had tried to save him three times, but not in the way the man had hoped.

It is not easy to see things as they truly are. We have so many filters going on in our minds that it clouds our perception of reality. When that happens, you are like a blind man groping about in the dark. How can you hope to make the right choices when you can’t see what you are doing or where you are going? When you are no longer in touch with your time and circumstances, only unfavourable outcomes await.

Clouds Your Goal

The man didn’t want to die, he wanted to live. This was why he prayed so earnestly to God to save him. The problem arose when his rigid expectations clouded his goal of living. It made him forget that it was more important to live than to obsess over the method of his salvation.

Rigid expectations can rob you of your clarity of purpose. By focusing too closely on the details or an ideal, you might lose sight of your goal and the big picture. When the means become more important than the goal, you are likelier to miss it.

Taking Action

If the man had not been fussy about his means of salvation, he would have lived. It is rare that things go exactly as you plan it. Even the best laid plans are unlikely to turn out the way you expect. There are just too many variables to account for. The best thing to do is to rid yourself of rigid expectations and change with your circumstances. Be clear about your goals and adapt as necessary to reach them.

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  2 Responses to “The Dangers of Rigid Expectations”

  1. First let me say, I am not a troll, I really am looking for an answer.

    As I understand it, God has given humanity free will, the ability to choose steak or salad, college or trade school, good or evil, right or wrong. That being the case, how was God able to send the neighbor, the boat, and the helicopter without interfering the free will of the neighbor and boat/helicopter pilots?

    • Hi Jeremy,

      I am not sure if I can provide the answer you are looking for, but here are my thoughts.

      First off, this is merely a teaching story to me. It is a story created by Man to make sense of the actions of God. Whether this is the way God really works, no one can say with any great certainty.

      Second, yes I agree that humanity has free will and the ability to choose.

      As for your question, this is how I would look at it given the perimeters you have set.

      Firstly, if God was involved and directing things, there must be some rescue measures in place should a flood occur. Clearly, the people who were trying to escape would pass by the man’s house, so it is not a stretch for the guy on the boat to offer the man a ride especially if there is space. It is the right, human and decent thing to do to save lives. This is the choice the boatman would have made of his own free will.

      The helicopter would be part of the rescue mission, if God was directing events, he could have made the helicopter pilot notice the man. The aim of the helicopter pilot is to rescue people. In both cases, their actions and choices do not contradict or interfere with their free will.

      I hope that answers your question.

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