Now the day before Saul came [to the town], the Lord had revealed to Samuel: “Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be ruler over my people Israel.” – 1 Samuel 9:15-16 (NRSV)
Saul comes to Samuel’s town in search of donkeys. It’s been an over-the-hills-and-through-the-woods kind of adventure for Saul, chasing his father’s lost donkeys through the hilly lands west of the Jordan River. Completely out of luck, Saul’s servant suggests they pay a local prophet for insight into the lost donkeys’ location.
And so it is that Saul and Samuel cross paths – Saul looking for a man who can tell him about donkeys, Samuel looking for a man God has chosen to be king.
Mismatched expectations like these are frequent gems in comedy … but can be lumps of coal in life. It’s good for a chuckle that Saul believes he has found a donkey diviner in Samuel, while Samuel believes he has found a people diviner in Saul. It’s less funny when friends or lovers or colleagues get the wires of their expectations crossed.
Feelings get hurt.
Egos are pricked.
Hearts cloud with frustration.
Someone’s anxiety over lost donkeys grows.
Someone else has the urge to shout, “Forget the donkeys already – this is bigger than donkeys!”
If our paths happen to cross today and I’m intent on donkeys while you’re intent on crowns (or vice versa); if you are coming and I am going and we miscue one another on our next steps; perhaps instead of rising to defend our own agendas in that moment, we might anoint one another with the holy blessing of new expectations.
Even if it means losing our donkeys.
I already know, God, that I’m not going to track every wandering donkey today. I hate to let even one of them go. If different expectations are possible, please interrupt me to let me know.