Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Out of the Ordinary

Firefighter Nathan Thayer
 When we hear words like "exciting", "new and improved", "emergent", "radical", "transformational", "outstanding", "life-changing", we tend to take notice.  I know I certainly pay attention to these terms.  While out shopping the other day, I wanted to try a product because it announced that it was "new and improved" with five times the cleaning ability.  Now who wouldn't want that?  However, my husband wisely pointed out that the only "new and improved" thing was probably the packaging, and the increased cleaning power probably meant using more of the product, so I passed on the item.  This just goes to show that we are a consumer mentality type of society.  Unfortunately, some of this same use of superlatives has started showing up in evangelical circles as well.  In an effort to draw people to the Gospel, have we become so consumer oriented that we neglect the ordinary?
      In a recent White Horse Inn Podcast, the host Michael Horton began a four part series entitled "Ordinary" to explore what it means to live a life for Christ within the context of our vocation.  His special guest was Tish Harrison Warren.  She and her husband are involved with Intervarsity Christian
Fellowship on a college campus in Texas, but she wrote a blog post entitled "Courage in the Ordinary".
The entire program explored the idea that if we could find joy in the ordinary church, the ordinary job, the ordinary home life, then we can make our witness "radical" out of what most people would call mundane.
     During the interview with Mrs. Warren, she stated that even if God called her to live in Africa as a missionary, she would still have to do the dishes, wash the clothes, care for her children and even tend to a sick child.  There is so much of the ordinary no matter where we are in life.  Just because we go on the mission field, take a short term mission, give all our money away to help others and downsize our living accommodations, there is still the ordinary life we must live to meet the needs of family.  So much in our Christian culture seems to shout for something "new and improved" that many of us feel "less than" in our walk with Christ.  However, God has not called us to "good works" to improve our position in terms of salvation.  Rather, He wants us to bloom where He has planted us even if it seems routine and "ordinary".
     For example, our son recently completed 14 weeks of physical and preparatory work to become a firefighter.  The course was tough and the training was rigorous.  He completed the course and is now a full-time firefighter.   When we hear about someone becoming a firefighter, we think of excitement, challenge and even glamor.  We also think of danger.  However, there is reality too.  Thus far, in the month that our son has had this full-time position in Lexington, KY, he has not had much activity aside
from maintenance, painting, checking equipment, and even working on the landscaping around the fire station.  Ordinary tasks which must be done describe the 24 hour shift he works along with continued training.  There have been no spectacular fires or major emergencies.  Routine EMS runs, but nothing earth shattering.  However, his job is extremely important to the citizens of the town who count on emergency personnel when there is a major catastrophe.  This is the vocation to which God has called him, and along with the major events that could take place, there is also the mundane daily duties that need to be completed.  Isn't this the case with most vocations?
     Not all of us are called to be a minister of the Gospel as a full time vocation.  However, all of us are called upon to share the Good News of Jesus Christ wherever God has planted us.  Each of us has a special call upon our lives to serve God in whatever job He has called us to do.  Whether we serve as a farmer, teacher, doctor, lawyer, homemaker, businessman, we know that God can and will use us even in the ordinary circumstances of daily living.  On Sunday, I spoke with a visitor who, like my husband, is an optometrist.  She said that so often her patients come in and tell her their life story.  This gives her an opportunity to point them to Christ or pray with them.
     As Scripture teaches, the Lord gave spiritual gifts to men and to the church, He gave:  "...the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds, and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes" (Ephesians 4:11-14).  If everyone was a missionary, who would plant and harvest the crops to produce food?  If we all were evangelists, who would raise the children at home?  God has called men and women to serve according to the vocation for which He has prepared them.
     My prayer is that God would teach us to rejoice in the ordinary lives He has called us to live; for in them, we will find the abundant life in Christ if we put Him first.  As Scripture teaches us: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams" (I Samuel 15:22).  If we are obedient in the small things, God will enlarge our opportunities for service.  We need not feel "less than" if we do not do some extraordinary activity for God.  Remember, our chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever in whatever vocation He has placed us in.  Selah!

I encourage you to visit www.theologyforgirls.com tomorrow for a new story in the series "Women in Scripture."

No comments: