That magical trip to Six Flags didn't go quite as planned. You didn't anticipate the lines would be THAT long, that she was too short to ride the best ones, that you can get a sunburn even with sunscreen, and that even the best laid plans can go south with just one Churro and a roller coaster.
Hiring the professional photographer seemed like a great idea - except it turns out the 2-year-old really does have complete control over her own smiles.
The outdoor wedding on the rainiest day of the year. The romantic evening when allergy season kicks in full force. Closing on the new house the day before the pink slip shows up.
That isn't what we pictured. It didn't turn out the way we planned it.
Imagine what the Jews thought when Jesus showed up as the Messiah. Talk about picturing something completely different! They were expecting a royal display of might and power - a force so overwhelming the Jews would be saved forever from oppression and pain.
What they got was a loving, peaceful, forgiving, ordinary carpenter with an extraordinary plan for salvation. What they wanted was instant deliverance.
What they got - what we all get - is eternal peace and new life in a place beyond the pale of our wildest imagination.
Our expectations about life are so often like the royal power the Jews wanted. We long for a country, a family, a job, and a community full of love and acceptance. We picture days of sharing the gospel to hungry seekers. We see our children growing up free to serve Jesus. We anticipate the truth of our message shielding us from wickedness.
We picture life as a Christian and wonder where it is.
Just like the family at the theme park or the smile-less child, the bride standing under an umbrella, the couple sitting on the bed with a box of tissues, or the home-owners staring in disbelief at what looks like the end of their world, we are often surprised by twists and turns, news flashes, and pot holes in our road to happiness.
There seem to be no good answers or explanations to many of those interruptions and detours. Oh, yes, it's true that we can - and often do - become stronger and more resilient with each one. But those big ones? They sure can leave us wondering Why?
Even the disciples who believed and followed Jesus closely were puzzled by His words and the reality of His life's story. They saw miracles by His hand and heard His very words. And yet they questioned why He couldn't simply make a revision to this death and resurrection part.
But Jesus knew. And He still knows. And hears every prayer and sees every tear. He will never leave us. Never forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:6/Hebrews 13:5)
When we look at the world through the lens of what we pictured, it all looks pretty bleak. Our country, our families, jobs, and communities strangely lack the love and acceptance we expected.
But Jesus knows. He holds the world in His hands.
And what Jesus pictures for us is better than anything we can imagine.