Ordinary. Of no special quality or interest; commonplace; unexceptional. I’m sure most of us, if not all of us, have this idea that we want to live a life full of grandeur. Of course, it’s often exacerbated by social media. Others seem to be living what we assume to be lives that are anything but ordinary. It’s too easy to get caught up in the social media facade of the perfect lives others are living. We begin to believe the lies the world tells. Untruths like we can only be spectacular when we do something that becomes Facebook epic. If we listen to those lies, how can we truly live out the life that God wants us to live?
Living in the Likeness of Christ
If there ever was one person that we could truly call extraordinary, it would be Jesus Christ. He walked among the sick, the lonely, the sinners. He performed countless miracles. He walked on water. He turned water into wine. The list is endless. He was descended to Earth to fulfill God’s divine purpose and ultimately sent to sacrifice himself on the cross for the transgression of human sins.
We are told “to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). Christ was a baby born to do great things, and he is “[…] an example that you should follow in his footsteps” (1 Peter 2:21). Why then do we consider our purpose on Earth ordinary when we are created in the likeness of someone that proved just how extraordinary He is?
God asks two things of us. That is to “love the Lord your God will all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first greatest commandment. A second is equally important ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:38-39). I’m sure we all have felt the tug in our heart that we want God to use us in big ways. Become a writer reaching the masses, a missionary in an exotic far away place, a pastor changing the lives of hundreds or even thousands. But maybe, just maybe the “big” things we hope to accomplish will come from our ordinary encounters. From living out our day to day life in the likeness of Christ.
Ordinary People Have Been Used in Huge Ways
The Bible is bursting with examples of God speaking to people in magnificent ways. Moses and the burning bush. Jonah and the whale. Saul, before God renamed him to Paul, blinded on the road to Damascus. Having these historic events as examples of the power God displays can be frustrating when all we want is for God to show us the greatness he’s meant for our lives.
We need to ask one important question: what if God just wants to use the ordinary routines in our lives for his bigger purpose? Lysa Terkeurst talks about the wise woman of Abel in her book “The Best Yes.” This woman’s short story is told in 2 Samuel 20:15-22. We are never told her name, and all we know about her is that she is a “wise woman.” She must have made quite an impression with her wisdom because, King David’s commander Joab stopped to listen to her, and she was able to prevent undue violence and bloodshed throughout the city.
If we look at John 4 we can see the story of the Samaritan Woman unfold. Jesus stopped her at Jacob’s Well and, breaking Jewish custom of talking to Samaritans, asked her for a drink. She was an obvious outcast in her society, and had previously been married five different times; however, Jesus trusted her with his secret and revealed to this woman, “I am the Messiah” (John 4:26).
There is no flash or glamour in these two stories. However, they are every bit as powerful and integral to the Kingdom of God. If we don’t show God we are faithful and obedient with the small daily tasks, how can we be entrusted with the bigger, greater things He has planned for us? The key is to continually seek God’s voice through prayer and Bible study.
Obedience in Waiting
We are told in Psalms 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” Be still. Two simple words, but in today’s fast paced society, they can be daunting tasks. God knows, however, without stillness we might miss His instruction and guidance in our lives. If you continue to grow, God can use you for more.
As God works in our lives, our hearts are changed so that we become more Christ like. We begin spiritual maturity. As we continue down the path of growth so does our responsibility. As our responsibility increases so do the tasks God calls us to complete. God can use us in the extravagant but the ideas we have for greatness and the ideas God has will, more than likely, differ. What if I’m not called to be a missionary like my friends in South Africa? What if I’m not called to lead a small group at church, but just be a leader amongst my friends? Who then can I reach? Friends. Coworkers. Family. That might just be the mission field God has laid before my path. It is in those daily encounters that, with the right tools and preparation, I have the power to change lives.
I have struggled with this idea of living just an ordinary life for a long time. As someone quickly approaching her thirtieth birthday and still unsure as to the direction my life is taking me, I am learning that no matter what I do, as long as I live ordinary, God will bless me indeed. It wasn’t easy coming to this humbling realization. I want to do great things for God (and selfishly, I want to do great things for me), but I’m learning that not all of us are called to be the Mother Theresas or Ghandis of the world, and that’s okay. God uses the small. He uses the simple. He uses the ordinary.