During the period of my late teens and early twenties, I spent four years working at Bakersville Quick Mart, a convenience store in my hometown. My job there entailed a wide variety of duties: pump gas, run the cash register, unload the grocery truck, stock the shelves, fill the coolers, deliver groceries to shut-ins, mop the floor, etc., etc. I’ve got about a hundred stories that I could tell from those days but today I’ll go with one of my favorites.
One Friday night a rough looking old truck pulled up to the gas pumps. As was my job, I went out to the truck to pump the gas. I saw three men in the truck seat, all of them probably in their late twenties to mid thirties, and each one had that “wild-eyed southern boy” thing going.
It didn’t take a detective to figure out they were out on the town for a fun Friday night. I asked the driver how much gas he wanted and as I recall the reply was, “Ten dollars worth.” So I pumped the gas and returned to the driver’s window to get the money. Normally that would have been the end of the transaction, but that night those fellows asked me to go into the store and get them some cigarettes, a couple of drinks, and maybe one or two other items that I can’t recall right now. Then the driver handed me $20 to pay for the gas and the other items.
I didn’t mind doing the favor because I suspected those fellows had been drinking and didn’t want to make a spectacle of themselves inside the store. But what none of us realized at the time was that $20 wouldn’t be enough to pay for everything. It wasn’t until I had gathered up the items and totaled up the amount on the register that I figured out the shortage. “Oh great,” I thought, “I get to explain to a bunch of wild men that I need more money from them.” I was also genuinely worried that $20 was all they had between the three of them.
So out I went, carrying not only the requested items but also the bad news. I approached the driver’s window cautiously and said to him, “Uh, sorry, but you didn’t give me enough money. The total was ……” At that point I didn’t know what to expect, but I feared the worst. Would the three get angry? Would they cuss me out? Would they get out of the truck and start making threats? Would they start the truck and roar off without paying for the gas? I was on red alert.
You can imagine my surprise, then, when the fellow in the middle absolutely cracked up as if I had just told him the funniest joke he’d ever heard. And through all that laughing he managed to get out a line that I’ve never forgotten. He said, “And us out here waitin’ for change!” When he said that, the other two men just cracked up, too. So did I for that matter. You talk about relieving the tension! Then the driver pulled out the additional money as easily as if he was a multi-millionaire and that was that. Problem solved.
Some thirty years have passed since that memorable night at the Quick Mart, but I can still see those desperate looking characters sitting in that truck busting a gut over their false expectations. They aren’t angry. They aren’t argumentative. They aren’t belligerent. They are just genuinely embarrassed about the absurdity of the predicament in which they’ve placed themselves.
And now that I’ve told you my story, the question becomes, How do you apply it to your own life? Well, allow me to suggest a way: Spend some time today examining your life to see if you yourself have some type of false expectation going. I like the way the New Living Translation renders Proverbs 10:28, and we should all heed the warning. It says:
The hopes of the godly result in happiness, but the expectations of the wicked are all in vain.
Maybe your false expectation involves a goal you’ve set that you will simply never reach. Maybe it involves a decision you’ve made that will never produce the results you’ve planned. Or maybe it involves a plan you are right now formulating that will never be God’s will for your life. I don’t know what your personal false expectation might be, but there is one thing I do know: If you are sitting in a truck waiting on change that’s never coming, it’s time to switch trucks.