Ordinarily Extraordinary Amid the Extraordinarily Ordinary

DishesSometimes we become restless, bored, and dissatisfied with the seemingly incessant pace of ordinary life.   One of my former professors once stopped for the night at our home on his way across the country.   He had only known me when I was a university student in a specialized academic context.  When he visited us, my husband and I were in the throes of keeping our five young children properly fed, clothed, and out of danger. My days primarily consisted of preparing meals, grocery shopping, washing and ironing mountains of clothing, supervising outdoor play, and taking various toddlers to the bathroom.  That didn’t count homeschooling the homeschooled ones and helping the public-schooled ones with their homework assignments.  To top it off, we had moved from a beautiful, mountainous European nation to a dry, barren wilderness town in the Panhandle of Texas.  We were culturally, physically, and spiritually challenged.

As our professor friend prepared to resume his journey after less than 24 hours in our home, he inquired how I managed to survive in that environment.   I responded by explaining that I really didn’t have time to engage myself in any academic or cultural pursuits beyond my own routine of caring for the children.  “Do you find it fulfilling?,” he asked.  “I know it is my job at this point in my life,” I replied.

The fact was, I longed for significance.  Although I was familiar with the old adage, “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world,”  I failed to see any evidence of such greatness in my life.  Despite the fact that I adored my children, I began to wonder who I was.  The days were a blur of activity, yet I wondered whether I was pleasing God or not.

I had much yet to learn about the extraordinary nature of God and how He intervenes in our ordinary lives.  I did not understand the extraordinary power He imparts to our lives as ordinary people in our ordinary places.  The story of leprous Naaman the Syrian warrior in 2 Kings 5:1-19 illustrates this point well.  Naaman made the trek to visit the prophet Elisha for the purpose of requesting healing from his leprosy.  To Naaman’s astonishment and annoyance, Elisha advised him simply to wash in the Jordan River seven times, and he would be clean from the leprosy.   Naaman was clearly disappointed and even angry at this proposed solution to his problem, as he had expected the prophet to pronounce powerful words from God;  he had hungered for a more dramatic encounter.   Washing in a river seemed rather banal, as he could have done the same at home and spared himself the trouble.   However, Naaman’s servants persuaded him, saying, “My father! If the prophet had asked you to do something really difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? So, doesn’t it make even more sense to do what he says, when it’s only, ‘Bathe, and be clean’?” (2 Kings 5:13)

The story concludes with Naaman’s change of heart to obey the prophet’s directive to wash seven times in the Jordan River.  He was then completely cleansed of the leprosy that had afflicted him.  

This story grips my heart, as I realize that the Lord often injects His extraordinary power and presence in the humblest and most ordinary aspects of my life.  As I reflect on various scenarios of life with our children, I see certain glimpses of God’s glory, glory of which I was unaware or to which I was blinded at the time.  Their gifts, their quirks, their enthusiasm, their questions, their beautiful smiles and whimsical antics were expressions of God speaking of His extraordinary creative power.

He often works in ways we do not see.  He does not always trumpet forth His plan in advance.  He works extraordinary wonders in our daily, ordinary lives.   Our Lord is ordinarily (typically) EXTRAORDINARY and reveals Himself in our extraordinarily ORDINARY lives.   How wonderful He is!  Many of the miracles He works use very normal props:  loaves, fish, a stick, a rock, a word of hope.  Often, He has not exaggerated or dramatized His work in my life; He has simply done what He wanted to do, sometimes in the quiet, secret places of my daily routine.

Lord, open our eyes to see Your glory in the smallest things, in the most ordinary moments!  May Your Presence infuse our very being and transform us to experience Your miracle-working power in the apparently powerless places of our days!

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