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,
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