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Unmet Expectations

It was one of the best funny/sad stories of the week.


In Glasgow, “Willy’s Chocolate Experience” was advertised as being a spectacular not-to-be-missed children’s attraction, “a universe where confectionary dreams are brought to life.” Riffing on Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, it would feature an Enchanted Garden filled with candy and chocolates, an Imagination Lab to leave kids “spellbound”, an “immersive heart-pounding” Twilight Tunnel, and captivating live performances.


All for only $44.


When parents arrived, the sparsely decorated warehouse contained a few props and a half-inflated bouncy house, with each child receiving one jelly bean and a quarter-cup of lemonade. Some children were frightened to tears by a badly costumed actor called “The Unknown”. It was all obviously a scam, with publicity poorly created by AI. It took all of five minutes to walk through.

The police were called. The memes began.


And as one parent said, “The worst part of all: there was no chocolate.”

Unmet expectations are terrible experiences. Many decades ago, my brother sent his hard-earned allowance to an ad on the back of a ten-cent comic book for a toy circus with clowns and animals along with a live chameleon that could actually walk a tightrope. A small box arrived weeks later with paper clowns to be cut out and a note that the chameleon would arrive separately.

Yeah, you guessed it.


As we go through the Lenten season, we are again reminded of the painful reality the disciples must have felt on the first—and worst—Good Friday ever. John the Baptizer had pre-echoed their fears: “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” MATTHEW 11:3


Afterwards, the men walking to Emmaus offered the obvious: “We had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” LUKE 24:21


Unmet expectations. And this was a Big One.


When you’re an oppressed people longing for vindication against your oppressors…and after you’ve waited centuries for a promised liberator and it looked as though you found him in a fearless miracle worker…and when everything seems possible to turn around, a naked, public crucifixion is not the way to finish. The end came not with a bang, but a whimper.


It has been noted that a “crucified messiah” is an oxymoron.


Thus, the disciples found themselves disoriented, frightened and alone in a locked room on the second floor of a friend’s house. I’ve been there, too, as a follower…and as a leader. Unmet expectations have a way of leading you up the stairs, quietly closing the door, sliding the deadbolt, and leaving you in the darkness. Alone.


In life, it’s inevitable. And that is where this post leaves us. Quite rightfully so during Lent, where we look less for answers, and sit with ambiguity and dull pain. It is the pilgrim’s inescapable journey of faith.

Dave Workman | The Elemental Group


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