We often fail to realize that the ordinary can be extraordinary. This is one reason why hope can wane during times of trying to make ends meet, when we are putting one foot in front of the other, doing our day-in and day-out tasks. Read the quote in the image below and ponder it for a minute. Read it 2-3 times and soak it in. Then read on.
You are busy so I’ll keep this post short.
Ordinary Can Be Extraordinary
I have loved this quote by William Henry Channing for a long time. I supposed I love it because my life circumstances have made it so I’ve had to stay local, to not travel much. This is weird for me because I work with and serve a lot of people who have jobs that take them all over the world. They teach in the Philippines and Guatemala. They serve in war torn places like Romania and Iraq. They help build sustainable living in various countries throughout Africa. Me? I have stayed home to feed and raise two kids, to serve as pastor to people with the same BIG questions I have, to help students find meaning as they tell me their stories, to quiver with fear by my mother’s hospital bed, to love a crazy and creative husband and to tend an ordinary backyard garden.
In short, I’ve stayed home to pray.
I have had to stay local in order to remain generous. I simply could not spend my time and money on anything else. This is my story and is not meant to imply that others who live differently are not generous. It is just that this local life I’ve lived has been my way of being generous. I have not “gone out into the world” to seek and save the lost. The world is right here. It has come to me and I have been asked to stay and live this very normal and ordinary life with generosity and hope.
And yes, I do appear VERY ordinary to most of the people I work with and serve. Some have been taken aback that my only international travel was from Washington State into Canada on a bus filled with college band geeks. These friends have suggested that “one day I’ll get out there” as if I don’t “get out there”, as if my current life has had no meaning, no excitement.
But I don’t care about their desire to see me have a more thrilling life. Why? Because I’ve learned that what I’ve put my hand to is all quite thrilling, quite extraordinary. My favorite biblical fact is that after David was anointed King in 1 Samuel 16, it says the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him from that day forward. And you know what David did next? He went back to his field, to his sheep. He went back to tending his flock. He did this very “boring and ordinary” job for another 15 years before actually taking the throne.
David was an anointed King, yes. But do we ever stop to consider that he was also an anointed shepherd?
Do you see why I love this biblical fact so very much?
The Lord has anointed me. And he has anointed you. “And Laura went back to picking up a carton of cigarettes for her mother with Alzheimer’s, the mother who forgot that she stopped smoking.” THAT is my life. And as much as I HATE picking up cigarettes for my mother, it is my sacred life that must be done with the One whose Spirit helps me be generous.
What is your life? Is there a task you have to go do that you HATE? Well, maybe you don’t hate it. (I can be a bit melodramatic sometimes.) But maybe it’s hard or just boring. Maybe it feels VERY ordinary. But let us keep this in mind, it is done WITH the living Lord, and it is sacred.
The Lord God makes it so the ordinary can be extraordinary. Can I hear an amen?