Coffee…my favorite ordinary part of my day
There are many aspects of the Christian life that are quite extraordinary. The fact that God became man, lived a sinless life, and died for the sins of man is pretty counterintuitive. In fact it’s amazing, so amazing that we have decided to build our lives around Him, and what He did for us affects everything we do.
We are called to be light in the darkness of this world in order to reflect Him who gave hope to all humanity. We are to be salt that seasons this life and draws people to thirst for the Creator and Redeemer who give us meaning and purpose for our days. There are many ways that Christ has called us to be different, but there are also many ways He has called us to simply be ordinary. That’s part of the amazing-ness of it all, He comes and intersects our ordinary lives, and although after that we can never be the same, we still go back to our ordinary lives. In fact, our ordinary lives are a good and crucial part in His plan.
“Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not Christians will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.”
1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 NLT
Interesting verse isn’t it? Of course, there is a lot of context behind this verse in that it is part of a letter Paul is writing to a specific church addressing specific ways He wants to encourage them based on their relationship and the things he has observed in their community. Yet, that doesn’t take away from the fact that this is a very interesting command, and by itself it seems rather odd compared to the other things commanded to Christians throughout the New Testament. Jesus tells us to die to ourselves, to be transformed by His power and grace, to be born again, but at the same time we go back to our normal lives, and that is good.
Photo Credit: Simukuni, who spent 7 hours waiting at the airport on the way to Canada
We were talking about this verse with a group of my friends that also came to Zambia from overseas, and it was interesting to think about the perception many of our friends and family back home have about our normal lives. Many of them only know about our life in Africa based on the newsletters sent out once a year or every three months. Of course in summarizing the last three months into one page it makes sense to leave out the normal things such as going to the grocery store and checking email, doing dishes, but it leads to an already over-romanticized view of serving and/or living overseas. Sure there are some very interesting things such as different foods, clothing, culture and language, but at the end of the day we have to get all of the normal things done like everyone else, and so do all the Zambians living around us.
No matter what your situation, we are each a part of this earth for a reason. God gave us families, communities, work places, grocery stores, Chemistry class… many of the most boring of activities you can think of in order to bring His ministry and His message to the earth and meet our ordinary realities. God is everywhere, he is in the amazing and spectacular, but He is also definitely in the place where we spend most of our lives…the normal, everyday stuff.
The work of our hands was created, as all things were created, to be glorifying to Him. Does that mean we need to sing praise songs and dance around for the joy of the Lord? Certainly, sometimes…but most of the time, that looks much more ordinary. It looks like doing an excellent job in the workplace, not to solely to get noticed and receive a promotion, but to participate, to be a good steward of the gifts God has given you and to participate in the normal areas He has placed you.
This is becoming real for me even just two weeks into my new job. My role is to coordinate one-year volunteers through our Global Service Learning department. We just received our yearly volunteers for Zambia, prepared our Zambian volunteers for their year in Canada, and now I have to wait a whole year for all of these exciting things to happen again. Sure, there are many important things that need to happen in between such as receiving and processing applications, interviews, developing job descriptions, emails, emails and more emails. But if I’m not glorifying God in the mundane steps in between, which take up quite a huge chunk of my time, then where can I glorify Him?
What does that look like for you? In our group of friends discussing this verse, we went around and shared the most boring part of our week. Sounds fun, right? Go ahead; join us in thinking about the moment in your week that you were just dragging through.
Okay, now think about how you can bring God into that place. How can you use normal everyday life to serve those around you? The means are just as important as the end. Jesus was perfect, not just when He was standing in front teaching or healing people from diseases. He was perfect in how he interacted with His disciples, children, a woman at the same well in the heat of the day. How can we follow His example and make the most of every moment we have on earth.
Join me this week in focusing on the boring, the mundane, the ordinary, and let us prayerfully consider what God wants to do with that.