Sometimes in the middle of the night, I wake up. I look at the clock, fluff my pillow, roll over and go back to sleep. This morning was no different. The clock said 4:30am, way too early for anyone to be up, so I closed my eyes to drift away for a couple more hours. When I opened them again, I saw it was now 5:00am.
After attempting to try one more time to fall back asleep, the thought occurred, I could have at least two hours to be alone, drink HOT coffee, and spend time with Jesus…if I get up now. I credit that thought to God, because to wake up that early is not something that I can claim is my idea. God is waking me up. To spend time with Him.
So I obeyed. I turned on the coffee pot, got my Bible, journal, and commentary (I know right!) and began to just be with Him. After 4 cups of coffee, my littlest one woke and my day began. But in the stillness and quiet of those uninterrupted early morning hours, He filled my heart with truth and hope.You see if I am honest, I often times struggle with thoughts of being ordinary. Living in an ordinary place, in an ordinary home, doing ordinary things, in an ordinary life. I often ask God, “Is this what you have for us? To live here? To do what we are currently doing? Is this it?”
I think there is something in most of us that strives to be more than, what we think of as, ordinary. We all want to be known. We all want to be picked first for the team. We all want to be the chosen one to perform a specific task. We all want to be told we are special, or different, or like no one else. We want to stand a part, we want to have a voice, we want to leave some sort of legacy, and if we truly follow God, we want to be a part of a significant movement for His Kingdom work.
We look at biblical heroes like David, Noah, Moses, Mary, and even the greatest of all, Jesus, and we see that these were all ordinary people that God used significantly. We hope that maybe He will choose to use us in an enormous way. A shepherd boy chosen to slay a giant and one day become a King; a man who was told by God to build an ark, and when everyone thought he was crazy, God used him to spare humanity; a man who was adopted and had a speech impediment, used by God to speak to the highest authority of the land and free an enslaved people. A young teenage virgin girl, chosen to be the mother of God, Himself. And the most significant of all, Jesus. A carpenter boy, who had 12 friends (if we can even call them that!), not royalty, not in any way special in the eyes of humans, yet he made the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, healed the sick, cared for the poor in spirit, and the greatest of all–rose from the dead.
We often look at biblical characters like this and are encouraged that God uses great sinners to do great Kingdom work. Yes, how true that is! All of these people (except Jesus, who was perfect), had great sins that Scripture revealed to us, to show us that as great as all these men and women were, they still weren’t the awaited Savior. Or we see great men in the NT, like Paul, and the disciples (after Jesus’ resurrection). Ones who pioneered the way to Christianity, were the first given the Holy Spirit, wrote parts of the Bible, and all who died in the name of Jesus. Or even more so, we see the modern day Christian men and women, who currently lead very public, Christ-proclaimed lives. Ones who write books, preach at large conferences, ones who are on the mission field, those who lead Gospel-preaching churches, the ones who represent Christianity to the world. We see these men and women of the faith, and think that if our lives don’t measure the definition that we have given to the terms, “extraordinary” and “significant,” than we believe we are just ordinary.
What we sometimes don’t realize, is that an extraordinary life is one lived obedient to God, and the obedience of these famous men and women of the faith, is the reason we now read about them. What is extraordinary is not the grandeur of His request, but our heart posture and response to His request. I truly believe we need to shift the way we think about an ordinary life.Because if we are faithful to Him, we simply cannot be ordinary. If, by definition, ordinary means, “Commonplace, Normal” then:
It isn’t normal to get out of bed at 5:00am to spend time with God.
Or to forgive someone who has greatly wronged us.
Or give money to help people move to indigenous parts of the word to share the Gospel.
It isn’t ordinary to speak words of kindness and truth to our spouse when he/she is unkind.
Or commit to a local church and make it a priority to be there when the doors are open (even when it is stressful or we don’t feel like it), because we believe God created the local church as a way to show the world the Gospel.
Or choosing to confess to wrongdoings that could have easily been covered.
Or even something as simple as choosing not to indulge in a huge bowl of ice cream when it’s being used as a means to not deal with other issues.
Every day obedience changes everything. It should change the way we think about money, family, friends, jobs, food, the poor, orphans, widows, the Church, speech…everything! So if we choose obedience, than being simply ordinary isn’t possible. Before we can strive towards obedience, we can’t move forward until we realize that obedience doesn’t mean we will be comfortable and safe. King David was obedient yet he had many enemies who wanted him dead (just read the Psalms!). Noah was obedient yet he was mocked and ridiculed and labeled crazy. Paul was obedient and was shipwrecked, beaten, stoned, and killed…and so were all of the disciples! Obedience means we do whatever He asks of us because we trust Him, know He is good, and ultimately because we get to live forever with Him in a glorious place.
I pray that God makes us sensitive to His voice and that we may recognize it in the busyness of life, so that we will live in obedience to Him. There is an enemy out there. An enemy that hates God and wants us to believe that we can’t have a part in God’s work on earth, because we are just”ordinary.” Let’s shut out the enemy’s lies, and let’s listen to God’s word, His voice, His call…and He’ll show us how to live extraordinary by simply obeying.