Ordinary. It’s not an interesting word. It’s – well – ordinary.
Ordinary involves laundry, going to school five days a week, doing homework. It means arriving on time to our jobs, doing chores, putting gas in the car, and grocery shopping.
Life is generally ordinary.
Once in a while, though, we have a “mountain-top” experience, as my mom calls it. For the teens in our youth group last summer, the mountain top was running a VBS program in upstate New York. It was pouring into those children’s lives for a week. For some teens, it was telling a child about Christ for the first time and seeing a young life respond in simple, pure faith to the gospel.
But mountain tops are only a fraction of life. Climbing up the mountain and then crawling back down it take up the majority of time. And the majority of that time, life is rather ordinary.
Our mission trip lasted just over a week, but for eight months, we washed cars, cleaned yards, and did just about anything we could to raise money.
Sometimes, we can see the goal, so struggling through the ordinary isn’t as hard. Other times, we have to cling to faith that there is a purpose through the tedious circumstances.
Such as scrubbing caked lasagna sauce off the family dishes or taking out the trash. Every week. Ordinary is a much bigger part of life than we plan on.
Moses: From Palace to Wilderness
Ordinary was a much bigger part of Moses’ life than he had planned on too. Remember, he had the best education Egypt could offer. On top of that, he was a prince. And then, he murdered an Egyptian, and his world turned upside down.
After fleeing for his life, he spent 40 long years tending sheep. Sheep are ordinary. What was a man of his experience doing tending sheep?
I don’t pretend to know what lessons God taught Moses while he watched the sheep, but I suspect that whatever they were, they helped prepare him to lead the children of Israel 40 years in the wilderness.
Finding God’s purpose in the ordinary things of life is not easy. We’d much rather be doing something “important” for God. More important than washing cars and hosting spaghetti dinner fundraisers.
But somehow, God meets us in the ordinary. He humbles us in the ordinary. Even though we can’t see Him work, He also equips us in the ordinary.
The Bible says that Moses was the meekest man who ever lived (Numbers 12:3). Did God transform him through the successes of his life? Was it on those “mountain-top experiences” that God taught him the meaning of meekness?
More than likely, God molded him through the painful, ordinary, lack-luster experiences.
Faithfulness in Few Things
In Matthew 25, Jesus tells the parable of the talents. There were three servants, one of whom was lazy and completely missed out on any blessing. However, the other two worked faithfully with the talents (or money) that their master had entrusted to them.
The amount they had been entrusted with didn’t matter. They both received the same praise from their master: “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness” (Matthew 25:21).
If our task right now is raising money for a mission trip, then we need to learn to see beyond the immediate chore to the larger goal. Maybe for some, it’s sorting through a sticky relationship or wading through scholarship applications. Regardless of our situation, we need to be faithful in the daily details while not losing sight of the prize.
Perhaps God spoons us “ordinary” to teach us patience, to show us how to surrender, to build endurance, to prepare us for something ahead.
Perhaps He cares less about the so-called importance of what we do and more about the attitude with which we do it.
What I know for sure is that God loves ordinary people. And, when we let Him work, He uses the ordinary things of life to mold us into the people He wants us to be. He uses the ordinary to prepare us for something greater.