Monday, May 18, 2009

When You're Disappointed

(I find this to be timely and hope you enjoy it. Written in August of ’04.)

We’ve just returned from a weekend camping trip, which proved to be a lesson in at least two things:

1) Don’t go camping on the weekend. Insensitive dolts were playing rock ‘n roll songs and whooping it up at 3:00 a.m., just like they did when I was growing up and camping in Southern California. When I approached to ask them to knock it off, they seemed startled that I was bothered. I felt old.

2) God is more compassionate than I thought.


Fishing in a nearby stream on Saturday and fully enjoying myself, I heard a different sort of question from the Spirit, one I’d never heard before: “Son, if in the next moment you were to join me in heaven, what would you expect?”

Foolishly thinking that I didn’t want to be interrupted during such an intense and focus-demanding time—fly fishing—I quickly shuffled the thought to a far off place, and got back to the more important business of fooling trout. However, the same thought returned two more times to my mind before I finally paid attention.

Thinking about what I would truly expect upon my arrival in heaven, a curious realization crept across my mind. On the faces of those gathered in welcome, I would expect to see a hint of disappointment.

Yes, I know about the rich welcome awaiting the faithful upon arrival home—“Well done, thou good and faithful servant! Come and share your master’s happiness.” But I was startled to realize that I didn’t think I’d be getting that rousing reception. Or, at least, not that rousing.

I don’t always do so well in this life. I regularly get stuff wrong, needlessly offend people, or fail to act like the man I am in Christ. Whether I know it immediately or find out about it later, failure weighs me down. You too? And then I begin thinking about all the work I have to do to make things better, and to make me better. I’ve proven, however, that I’m not very good at saving myself.

Anyway, in my mind I heard something like this, “I know how difficult it is in the world, I know how very awful it can be. Do you think I have no compassion for you, my righteous son? Do you think I don’t know of your anguish and valiant struggle between flesh and spirit? I am so pleased in your triumphs and rejoice in your success! I love how you are and how you do. Fear not your homecoming—it will be triumphant.”

There on the stream I choked up and laughed a laugh of relief and renewed hope. “He’s really compassionate!” I thought, “He really understands and delights in the smallest success, valuing it far more than the ugliest defeat, wiped clean as He looks upon me with joy and delight. He really loves me in the mess.”

I had a great afternoon. Throughout it I was overwhelmed by the compassion He has for me (and for you) right now in this life, in every trial, in every struggle.

And, yes, I caught a bunch of trout. You can ask my wife and girls if you don’t believe me. Really.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,…” (2 Cor 1:3 NIV)


  1. Anonymous1:25 PM

    RALPH - I hope we get to meet this side of heaven. I love your writing! It's REAL!

  2. Anonymous1:26 PM

    Hi Ralph Thank you for your honesty. I really needed to hear that. Praise God.

  3. Anonymous2:57 PM

    Thanks Ralph, I'm in the midst of my cancer treatments and this was the perfect thing to read and then ponder as I was back on the table today!

  4. Anonymous3:00 PM

    Great writing again Ralph - I love reading your work.

  5. Anonymous5:13 PM

    Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust. Psalms 103:13,14
    I have been pondering this passage. He knows my frame, and that apart from Him I am dust, and has compassion on me accordingly. He is never surprised or disappointed when my dust acts like dust. What else would dust do? Thanks for reprinting this post.

  6. Anonymous11:07 PM

    Thank you for sharing this with us! I can always look to you for encouragement in remembering how much God really does love me, in spite of the "me" I see :o) Bless you and your family! Hug them for me and get one yourself, okay!

  7. Anonymous11:08 PM

    Once again I'm reminded that He just loves me! I'm so prone to trying to earn my way and doing everything right so that He will be proud of me. When I'm failing I'm almost try to hide myself from Him afraid that He doesn't want to be with me anymore.
    I needed this reminder that even though I don't often get it right He is still there loving me.
    Thanks Ralph!

  8. Anonymous3:17 PM

    Ralph, When it comes to expressing the loving nature of God, the way you tell your story is a ray of light in a dark world.

  9. Anonymous7:09 AM

    Thanks Ralph. I read this at a great time. I found out I am to be laid off AGAIN as of 5/29 and was really feeling that I had messed up. I know that I have to look at myself through God's eyes and not join the band in beating myself up!
    Take care,

  10. Anonymous7:12 AM


    with this one you brought me back from driving faster in order to achieve it!


  11. Anonymous3:12 PM

    I read this before, Ralphie, but it was again a very good reminder. thanks. I forwarded on to a friend who struggled last night on the phone with the idea of disappointing God. Thanks, my friend!

  12. What wonderful and caring and insightful comments. Thanks very much, my friends.