From Ordinary to Extraordinary

cabin-in-trees.GIF Contemplating the significance of life…

Well known 19th century American philosopher Henry David Thoreau wrote many things about the human experience. One rolls off of my lips often, because it seems to summarize his philosophy regarding life most succinctly. By now, many of you know what it is. Thoreau stated: The masses of humanity live lives of quiet desperation.

While there is no shortage of desperation in our world, with certain people groups having more than their share and others seeming to have less, it appears that on the whole our lives consist more of just regular, ordinary sorts of things which are necessary for daily existence.

While many search for the one idea, cause or purpose which gives these simple things meaning most of our days are filled with the regular rather than the regal. So, we ask: Is it possible for the mundane to become a marvel and a wonder? Is it possible for the ordinary to take on extraordinary significance?

I suggest that it is. In fact, I lean more towards insisting that ordinary lives, when lived for God, become extraordinary. Living for God is the primary requirement, too. It is in living for God that the simple becomes sublime—the ordinary becomes extraordinary. A couple of passages seem to highlight this idea:

(1) Matthew 5:13-16, “13You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. 14“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

(2) Colossians 3:23-24, “23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

From Ordinary to Extraordinary…

This point is powerfully illustrated in the life of one of our sisters-in-Christ. Because she comes to us from India, I wanted to learn more about how she came to know Jesus and become part of His kingdom. I’ll have to confess that what she told me shined a bright light on some of my biases and preconceived notions. I had assumed there would be an extraordinary set of circumstances involved in her story. This did not turn out to be the case. She gave me permission to share her story with you so that we might appreciate how God worked in her life to guide her safely into the family of God. Her life story is actually an illustration of how God uses “ordinary things” to achieve extraordinary results.

Here is an excerpt from the email she sent on October 31, 2005:

Good Morning Bill,

Well I was born and raised in a christian family. My Grand parents were christians and so are my parents. The Church Minister of the Church of Christ back home constantly reminded and asked me when I would get baptised every week he visited. I finally agreed cause I didn’t wanted him to ask me anymore and also I was well aware that its only through baptism I receive the Holy Spirit.

I did not get baptised with this urge inside to become Gods Child and to be like Jesus. I was as before after my baptism. Sunday christian, no difference in my behaviour (as there was not much besides school,church and home) etc. When my kid brother was asked by my parents to think abt Baptism 1.5 yrs after I got, he asked one thing which first me think abt being a CHRISTIAN in a deeper sense and it was “tell me how better Suma got after baptism”. he repeatedly asked whomever asked him to get baptised.He asked this cos I was no better handling the situations when my brothers and I fought.I fought, gave bad names, angry for days…typical sibling rivalry..

And then during my Bachelors my mom got sick with her Kidney problems and Dad went almost bankrupt by trusting a friend and lending him huge money.I observed how God worked wonders in a span of 4 years helping us have a consistent health to mom (problem in her kidneys didn’t deteriorate) and Dad. The church, my parents prayed for the problem and witnessed God bringing betterment in the situations. The church had been incredibly supportive.

After I came to USA, I met people from church who are so kind and loving.When I prayed in times of need , God helped me. All these remind me to be thankful and prayerful to God not only in times of need or Sundays but ALWAYS. Being with Dagnans and Cedars, I see how people are warmly and affectionately welcomed for just one reason that we are all brothers and sisters in HIM. It helps me be kind and helpful too.

So like any other chirstian, mine is a regular story. I am constantly trying to develop the nature to accept any situation good or bad (Esp. bad) as God’s Plan for me and pray for His help to face it. I still see God helping Mom with her health and rest of my family each day. I also see how God helps me when I pray for any situation at work.

Thanks for the prayers for my Mom. Pray for me and others who need help with spiritual growth.

In His Love,

Suma

Extraordinary results from ordinary circumstances…

Her life consists of some fairly “ordinary” life-circumstances. These seem to have ended in extraordinary results. It doesn’t matter what hemisphere we are in, either. Suma’s only hesitancy in permitting me to share this was a concern that the emphasis would be on a person rather than God. It is clear, however, that the ordinary became extraordinary, because God was active in her life through these circumstances. Because God is the focus of her life, God is glorified through her life. A few of the things in her experience were/are:

(1) She was raised in a Christian family where she saw faith, friendship, fellowship, failure and forgiveness in action.

(2) She was encouraged by caring Christians to begin her walk with the Lord and continues to experience encouragement from many sources in her journey of faith.

(3) She learned how much of an impact her spiritual walk had on others, especially those close to her like her brother.

(4) She learned how to trust God through difficult times and found God to be faithful in all things.

(5) She learned that walking by faith and not by sight is the essence of what it means to be a child of God.

There are many other things, of course. Hopefully, our sister Kollabathula’s email will prompt us all to give this idea some though.

– What sublime things is God doing through your life?

– How is God shaping you in such a way that extraordinary results are coming about through the ordinary events of your daily life?

– How is God using your life to bring about extraordinary things through the ordinary ways you are interacting with other people in our daily lives?

© Bill Williams

June 30, 2006

About a fellow sojourner

a sojourner in life, trying to follow in the steps of Jesus.
This entry was posted in Blogroll, Christian Living, Christianity, Family, Following Jesus, Life, Personal. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to From Ordinary to Extraordinary

  1. Dee Andrews says:

    Bill –

    This post makes me think of something my 84 1/2 year old mom said to me yesterday on the phone when I called her to ask her a rather mundane question, as most people might look at it – as I always do – about all things ordinary in the daily scope of things, spiritual, wise and relevant for the question at hand on my mind.

    We were talking about family – as we are want to do – and she was telling me of her thoughts from last weekend when my niece – my brother’s daughter – was there visiting her along with her two little ones, 3 and 1. She said that little James, who is 3, was going around her house singing “Jesus Loves Me” at the top of his voice when it dawned on her that he made the 4th generation in our family now who are Christians because my dad was raised as a Christian in the church of Christ in Abernathy, Texas, and she was baptized after they married as a very young adult woman.

    That led to me, my brother and sister, all of our children and now grandchildren – the 4th generation to my mom. Nothing extraordinary in our lives. Other than deep commitment to our lives as Christians, with all of our lives’ winds and turns and sidesteps along the way. At least in my case, for sure.

    But lives made good by the goodness of living Christian lives and that influence on others we encounter.

    My mom always has very interesting things to say and to pass along and I’ve “featured” her in my blog over the months with my “View from the ’80s'” posts. Concerning your post here today, you might want to take a peek back at some of her words about her Christian life and what is important to her now in her 85th year of life – and a good one she’s lived. You’ll find them here in my most recent (but way too far back now) post of her words – View From the “80s” For 1-6-06. She’s a “neat” woman and I SO long to be more like her, although I highly doubt I’ll have as long to “practice” in this life as she has and will be for a long time to come, Lord willing.

    Cheers! Dee

  2. Kathy says:

    Bill,

    Your heart/soul piercing questions have me in a quandry. I’ve been writing, editing, deleting, writing again, etc, etc, etc, but it just doesn’t sit on my shoulders comfortably.

    Yes, God has used me as His vessel to reach others in very surprising ways, but to elaborate seems self-grandizing in some way. After all, it was GOD that did it all, I was just an empty, cracked pot He used to get where He wanted to be with others.

    Guess I’ll just leave it at that. Guess this is one time to keep my trap shut, hard as that might be for one as opinionated as I’ve been known to be. LOL

  3. Bill says:

    DEE: What a marvelous “story” God is writing on the branches of your family tree! Generation after generation walking in the steps of Jesus…what could be more extraordinary? This reminds me of Jesus’ Parable of the Wedding Banquet. A beautiful story that celebrates those who decide to follow Jesus in spite of the fact that many are invited, but few are chosen!

    KATHY: Yes, those are penetrating questions, which are extremely difficult to answer. They’ve achieved their intended purpose if they have caused you to reflect on the fact that God is using you as a vessel of blessing. The fact that you are aware of this is such a blessing. So many of the people I am associated with seem to be living lives of quiet despseation, wishing their lives had meaning and purpose. Even if we don’t know what it is that God is doing, knowing He can and will and does use our ordinary lives to make an extraordinary impact on the lives of others is so encouraging, so empowering! We are simply called to let our lights shine, which is a small thing, relatively speaking. When we do this, others see our good works and praise our heavenly Father. What could be more awesome?

  4. Kathy says:

    Thanks for your as usual kind words, Bill.

    It is awesome to reflect on the mysterious and surprising ways God has used me. The most thrilling ride of all, I believe, was what I at first thought was a serendipity meeting with a young secular Jew. It only took me the length of our first conversation to realize that the Hound of Heaven was in pursuit of Michael, and I told him as much. LOL At his baptism, a little over a year later he said when we first talked he thought I was nuts, but something kept him in touch, wanting to talk with me.

    When he came to the Cross, accepting Jesus as Savior of his life, he came immersed in love and devotion for Jesus like no one else I’ve had the privelege of meeting. He is amazing and God has done an amazing work in him. I truly miss Michael very much and our long conversations, be they about Jesus, Michael’s family as they too are finding their path to the Cross thanks to his devotion and openness, or our mutual passion for baseball. If Michael doesn’t hear from me for a few weeks, he’s on the phone to me. What a faithful and joyous friendship God has given me in Michael.

    I’ve found that anytime God uses me, His cracked pot, as His vessel there is an accompanying miracle of blessing that just overwhelms me. Watching Michael’s walk toward the Cross was like watching a cocoon open, unfold as a butterfly emerges. His whole life revolves around his love for Jesus, everything!!

    There are many more, and much more to this particular story. One of these days I’ll try to write that ‘more’ about it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s