Message Synopsis: Is your happiness drowning in a sea of expectations? Have you forgotten how to be content with the blessings you have? Potato farmer Jeff Thompson was convinced that he needed to escape his farm to find true happiness . . . until a sign in the cornfields convinced him otherwise.

For we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.1 Timothy 6: 7-8 ESV

I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure. Psalm 16: 8-9 NIV

Potato farmer Jeff Thompson was obsessed with the idea of being more than a potato farmer. Maybe that life had been good enough for his parents and grandparents, but he had higher expectations for his place in the world. Unfortunately, his attempts at entrepreneurship seemed to be going nowhere. He’d read somewhere that a person has to expect success to find it, so upon turning 40, he’d drawn up a five-year plan to escape his farm, and he’d fully expected his plans to materialize. However, here he was—45 years old—and he still seemed to be failing.

Jeff could barely keep his eyes open or his head up as he drove home from another disappointing business meeting in the city. It was only early afternoon, but he felt completely exhausted as he exited the freeway and got back onto the country roads leading home. His ideas for opening a microbrewery and gift shop had been rejected by a group of investors—again—and last month another bank had denied his pitch for a small-business loan. He was sick of waking up each Sunday morning full of energy and hope only to have his world shattered by the week’s end. He was sick of telling himself that he was on the path to something better when he obviously wasn’t. He was sick of thinking that he could be something more than a potato farmer when he obviously couldn’t.

Feeling ready to give in to despair, Jeff pulled his tattered truck over to the side of a lonely road and cried. Bright rays of sun from a cloudless sky illuminated his pain. Jeff cried and pounded his fists on the steering wheel, but after sobbing for a few minutes, he looked up and saw a sign in the surrounding cornfield. The sign read: Blessed is the man who expects nothing, for he will never be disappointed.

That week, Jeff decided to stop obsessing over the idea of escaping his potato farm. He resolved to instead enjoy the time he had on his country land with his wife and three children. Jeff also decided to cut back on his hopeful drives into the city, but surprisingly, within two years a group of investors found him anyway through mutual acquaintances. By age 48, Jeff was running his craft brewery in the city and he was happy. However, Jeff wasn’t happy because he’d escaped his farm. Rather, he was happy because he’d escaped his own mental prisons and learned how to live thankfully rather than expectantly. Jeff was happy because he’d found the perspective that would have left him content even if he died a potato farmer.

We all wake up most days with a lot of expectations. Most workdays, you probably wake up with expectations about how things such as meetings with your boss and interactions with your coworkers should proceed. Maybe you expect a certain raise each review period, and maybe you expect your professional status and freedom to increase a little each year, too. But what happens when professional life differs from our expectations? What happens when our personal lives don't play out exactly as we'd hoped they would?

Unfortunately, having too many expectations usually leads to pain. Our days are often packed full of disappointments precisely because they are so full of our own expectations. Today, start clearing away some of your expectations and allow life’s beauty to happen on its own. Appreciate what you already have and be grateful when additional blessings surprise you.

God promises to provide you with everything you really need, including contentment, so why not start enjoying a truly content life today?

Prayer: Dear God, too often I think that my happiness waits for me in some future scenario. Today, please allow me to graciously enjoy everything that You are blessing me with right now

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Michael S. Priebe, Lovely Grind author & web creator

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