The Extraordinary Ordinary
By contributing writer Ami:
“I’ll have the Ordinary Special.”
“Do you want blue skies with that?”
“Ok, that’ll be one Ordinary Special coming right up. Runny noses, nap time songs, making dinner, a kiss when the husband comes home, an argument, extra reconciliation snuggles, and a side of blue skies.”
“Yep, that’ll do it. I’ll have it my way.”
Wouldn’t it be great if we could order our days from a menu, consciously choosing what seems most desirable? An ordinary day? An extraordinary day?
I’d pick an entirely different ordinary than the one I have now- I wake up, stumble downstairs for coffee, work, write, spend time with friends, watch TV, go to bed by myself.
I would certainly pick an ordinary that included another husband and with him, children. I’d gladly take the exhaustion, the nighttime feedings, and the tantrums, for the joy of loving and being loved.
Other people’s ordinaries seem much better than my own, so I’d choose what I think I need to be happy.
But I want extraordinary also. How about I order that as well? I want to slay dragons and move mountains. I want God to do something BIG in and through me. I want the gospel to explode in hearts and the kingdom proclaimed.
God, I could do so much more. The task you’ve given seems so small.
“I want to write for multitudes and speak at conferences. Move over Nancy Leigh DeMoss!” says the silly, proud, dreamer with a hint of tongue and cheek.
How fickle am I, however, for often I cry “God don’t you think you’ve asked too much? Don’t you know I’m scared?”
To pick my own ordinary, or my own extraordinary seems like it’d be a sweet deal then. Right?
What is the ordinary you’d pick? The extraordinary?
But It’s probably a good thing I can’t order life from a menu. Knowing human nature, I’d still say, “I wish I’d ordered what she’s having.”
And if I’m honest, a different ordinary wouldn’t thoroughly satisfy either. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
Moreover, there’s a more glaring issue: choosing life like items on a menu presupposes I don’t need God, that I’m in control of my destiny. I’m not fooled, though. I’ve lived long enough to know that’s the oldest lie in the book.
I need God. He alone fully satisfies.
What if I realized that my ordinary is precisely, uniquely, and intimately guided by God? What if I knew– I mean really KNEW –that God is sovereign, trustworthy, and infinitely loving?
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” Psalm 32:8
The steps of a man are established by the Lord when he delights in his way, though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.” Psalm 37:23-24
What if I knew that ordinary is really extraordinary?
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:10-11
“Jesus calls his followers, not to a dour, lifeless, miserable existence that squashes human potential, but to a rich, full, joyful life, one overflowing with meaningful activities under the personal favor and blessing of God and in continual fellowship with his people.” (ESV Study Bible Notes)
Extraordinary Ordinary… Why, that might change everything.
Tim Keller put it this way.
If Jesus became incarnate to live among the ordinary, what we call ordinary must be pretty special to God.”
God cares about all the ordinary details. He created them. He redeems them. God dwelt in them, so that He could be a High Priest who knows our weaknesses. They remind us that He provides.
Jesus seemed ridiculously ordinary. Ordinary looks. Ordinary stature. Ordinary occupation. The son of Mary and Joseph, apprenticed as a carpenter, went to Torah school and had a bar mitzvah.
But wrapped in his ordinary humanity, was something inestimably extraordinary.
God became flesh. “I will come to you. And I will die for you.” That’s the most radical thing I’ve ever heard!
He gives life, abundant life. He gives extraordinary purpose to ordinary days.
So I stop, I marvel at flower blossoms and budding trees. I give thanks for dishes to wash and laundry to fold. When I think about my ordinary life, and even the not so ordinary parts, I remember it’s incredible to get to serve, to lead, to point others to Jesus.
Clay, wine, trees, fields, bread, fish: all ordinary things used by Jesus in marvelous ways. Jesus operates in the ordinary, but the results are extravagant. I suppose then, He uses my ordinary as well.
I’m the recipient of extraordinary grace.
I have received the extraordinary Gospel. And that is no ordinary thing.
What a beautiful reminder, Ami! God placed each of us into the exact place He wants us to fill. He made us exactly as He wants us to be (Psalm 139). This reminds me of the story of the woman with the hemorrhage (Mark 5:21-34). She had been sick, exhausted, a social outcast, unable to have a normal marriage or children, impoverished by seeking help from doctors who if anything made her worse – for twelve years! While I might think of these twelve years as wasted, she was privileged to be called the daughter of the King, commended for her faith, and told to “go in peace” by the Prince of Peace Himself. This story is such a great reminder of how God can take something weak and ordinary and turn it into something extraordinary.
Thanks for stopping by to leave such a thoughtful comment. I love the parallel you drew with the woman from Mark 5. Yes, another beautiful example of redemption, reversal, and beauty out of ashes. Jesus does extraordinary things. It’s funny–I wrote this post over a month ago, but needed very much to be reminded this truth again today!