Nothing extraordinary happened this weekend. We did the average stuff . . . mowed the lawn, bought some groceries, cleaned the house, cooked the meals . . . pretty ordinary stuff. Now, had we gone to the annual fall festival or celebrated a birthday or churned homemade ice cream and watched fireworks, I would have said we had an extraordinary weekend. Somehow, groceries and cleaning don’t seem extraordinary.
But then I started thinking . . . what would happen if we didn’t attend to the ordinary tasks? We would run out of food to eat and clothes to wear; we would not care too much about fall football or fireworks if piles of garbage were stacked in the house. Not to mention, we would all be a bit cranky, which is what happens when people are messy and hungry. As I thought further, the weekend was extraordinary in very small, ordinary ways.
I think some passages in Scripture can seem ordinary as well. Our familiarity with them often mutes the powerful message they contain. Paul the apostle revealed his extraordinary character by the ordinary things he said and did. He addressed extraordinary truths such as who God is, who we are in Christ, what we are to say and do, where we should and should not go, how we should think and behave, and what to watch out for in ourselves and in others.
Like good parents do, Paul wrote about firm boundaries that God designed for us to live most happily within . . . if you do or say or go _____, then you will be or say or have _____. He wrote to ordinary people in ordinary circumstances, often while he endured the worst of circumstances. That is why I find him extraordinary. He addressed one of the most extraordinary letters he wrote to very ordinary people in the Philippian church. He didn’t write from an executive office or expensive vacation spot; he wrote while under house arrest in Rome.
Several years ago, I sat on the bathroom floor waiting to help my son Jon with some bathroom needs—ordinary tasks for a caregiver of a child with special needs but a task with not a lot of glory in it. I resented the situation, wishing the demands of being a caregiver would somehow go away. I don’t like remembering some of the resentments I used to have, but they are a reminder to me of God’s extraordinary work in my ordinary life. While waiting on the floor, I asked myself, “Colleen, if this is what Jesus has called you to do for the rest of your life, are you going to be content in it?” Further, if the washing of a bottom and changing sheets and waking at all hours of the night are to continue without end, how does that meet your belief in God’s extraordinary plan for your life . . . isn’t that enough? I then recalled Paul’s passage in Philippians 2 because the demands of caregiving were really about the attitude of my soul. Philippians 2:3–8 says:
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. (NLT)
And thus, the ordinary place of the bathroom floor became an extraordinary sanctuary for my soul. I was disgusted to see how self-focused I had been. I will never forget what happened when I said, “Lord, yes, I am content taking care of your child whom you have entrusted to my care . . . what an extraordinary calling!” How had I missed this perspective—that God had called me to care for this child?
Perhaps you are living with the expectation that God works in magnanimous ways or, perhaps, you’re waiting for something better to come along. But what is better than being entrusted by God to care for a child of God?
So I ask, what part of ordinary are you going to welcome for the first time?