Exceptional in the Ordinary

Sometimes, mindless trawling of an instagram feed can be good for the soul. Last night, due to a cold-induced self-pitying funk, I found myself clicking through about three pages of instagram photos. Out of that bevy of images, one of brightly colored fallen leaves, accompanied with the following words stayed with me:

It does require the supernatural grace of God to live twenty-four hours in every day as a saint, to go through drudgery as a disciple, to live an ordinary, unobserved, ignored existence as a disciple of Jesus.

It is inbred in us that we have to do exceptional things for God; but we have not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things, to be holy in the mean streets, among mean people, and this is not learned in five minutes.

(Oswald Chambers)

There isn’t much I can say that can improve upon this message, but for the sake of honesty, a couple thoughts from this quote that make me want to find a way to tattoo it on my heart and mind:

First, it carries with it a reminder of conversations I’ve had this week with friends about the purpose of this life with Jesus being the formation of His life and character within me–and that this happens in the daily, ordinary things that I want to ignore or discount, like energy-zapping colds that seem like they’ll never go away, on top of the emotional roller coaster of a first-time pregnancy (and a bunch of other small but built-up tasks and worries). I tend to forget that I don’t have to deal with these ordinary things on my own, while looking for an extraordinary task that God wants me to embark on with Him. The daily tasks before me today are ones that He is calling me to walk with Him in, and through which I can experience His transforming strength and power.

Secondly, that last phrase of Chamber’s, “and this is not learned in five minutes” should not be so hard to remember, but–oh, it is! You’d think that seeing the seasons revolve around me, watching my garden grow slowly yet steadily over the summer, experiencing the process of a life developing in my own body… would all ground me in the way God works–organically, imperceptibly at first, sometimes even agonizingly slowly, yet always right on time. How good then, to be reminded that it is in the drudgery and ignored tasks that threaten to overwhelm me that He is present and working, even if not on the five-minute time table that I would like to hold  Him–and myself–to.

That frees me to see the tasks, worries and hindrances before me for what they are–no longer such a looming obstacle that I must tackle on my own–and having done so, to lift my eyes to see Jesus and the beauty that surrounds even in the ordinary.




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