We live in a world that celebrates the extraordinary to the point that the ordinary can seem like a lesser world to inhabit. The ordinary feels like pure drudgery. To live in the “ordinary” is an insult to our intelligence and capabilities. However, life is made up of one ordinary day after another.
The wisdom of Ecclesiastes proclaims that there is “nothing new under the sun.” (1:9) Even so, there is something in us that longs for the extraordinary … something bigger than “day to day” life. Again, the wisdom of Ecclesiastes: “he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” (3:11)
We were built for the extraordinary but we don’t find it in the circumstances of life. In fact, the wisdom of Ecclesiastes suggests that we can’t find out what God has done from beginning to end. In other words, the pursuit of time-bound, circumstantial extraordinariness is futile because we are the mercy of God and His movement in our lives. He supplies the extraordinary. His very life and the glimpses we catch of Him are the extraordinary. Besides, much of what Western culture celebrates and promotes is an illusion at best.
Seeking the extraordinary is not only futile, it can border on idolatrous. It is He alone who is our “extraordinary.” When He becomes that, the stuff of life is easy to inhabit because changing a diaper or taking the trash out is not what defines us. In fact, His love extended to us and through us, no matter the task, is our reality. Simple things become an altar of worship. And when we practice inhabiting the ordinary with our full selves, not longing for some other existence, we’ve begun to experience Him. Remember, it is not in the “extraordinary” that we experience Him (a wind or an earthquake or a fire) but in the sound of silence. (1 Kings 19:11-12)
When we do experience an extraordinary event, it is nothing more than a window into His divine mercy that fuels our existence in the ordinary. But, even this, we do not seek but we entrust ourselves to the One who provides all that is necessary.
Oswald Chambers commented: “We have all experienced times of exaltation on the mountain, when we have seen things from God’s perspective and have wanted to stay there. But God will never allow us to stay there. The true test of our spiritual life is in exhibiting the power to descend from the mountain. If we only have the power to go up, something is wrong. It is a wonderful thing to be on the mountain with God, but a person only gets there so that he may later go down and lift up the demon-possessed people in the valley (see Mark 9:14-18) We are not made for the mountains, for sunrises, or for the other beautiful attractions in life— those are simply intended to be moments of inspiration. We are made for the valley and the ordinary things of life, and that is where we have to prove our stamina and strength. Yet our spiritual selfishness always wants repeated moments on the mountain. We feel that we could talk and live like perfect angels, if we could only stay on the mountaintop. Those times of exaltation are exceptional and they have their meaning in our life with God, but we must beware to prevent our spiritual selfishness from wanting to make them the only time.”
Consider this … seek Him in the ordinary and life will have an extraordinary nature. However, seek Him in the extraordinary and life will seem very ordinary.
Make a commitment to give up seeking the extraordinary and live each ordinary moment in His love and provision. What might that look like for you? How will you receive His love and provision in the ordinary?