The Blessing of Ordinary
Just about every time I meet someone new I get asked the question, “Have we met before?” It happens so often that I do a little mental countdown from the time the initial greeting is exchanged until some form of that question is asked. It’s usually no more than ten to fifteen seconds. The answer is (almost) always the same: “I don’t think so,” said with a smile and a knowing that no, we haven’t met, but what they recognize in me is the ordinary. I don’t say that in a self-deprecating way at all, I’ve just realized over the years that I have one of those ordinary faces...no true defining features like large almond-shaped eyes or structured cheek bones. It simply seems to be one of those “insert the person I remind you of here” faces and voilà, I’m suddenly the spitting image of your childhood best friend. I’ve gotten pretty used to it by now, and it’s even become an inside joke between me and my husband, Jonathan, when I meet new people. I’ll smile and shake my head and say, “No, we haven’t met before. I just have one of those ordinary faces.”
If I’m honest, I’ve been known to begrudge ordinary at times. Not just ordinary physical features but the ordinary-ness of life in general. I just wondered what it would be like to have more... to be more. More beauty. More style. More home. More fame. More prominence.
Not just ordinary, but extraordinary.
Maybe we’ve all let our minds go there a time or two. Maybe we’ve been ready to throw ordinary out the window for a chance at fame and fortune. Maybe we would’ve been quick to sacrifice ordinary for a shot at the big leagues. More extra and much, MUCH less ordinary.
But as much as I may have once wished it otherwise, ordinary seems to be my lot. And I can honestly say that the Lord is moving me to a place of not just accepting, but celebrating the ordinary. Because He’s reminding me that it is the ordinary that He chooses and uses to do the extraordinary.
Consider Moses, a man of humble Hebrew beginnings, slow of speech and tongue who was keeping his father-in-law’s flock on Mount Horeb when God intervened. Moses, an ordinary man chosen for the extraordinary task of leading the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt and toward the promised land of Canaan. (Exodus 3-4)
Consider David, a shepherd boy, small in stature and unlikely to even be noticed, yet God chose him to slay a giant and to eventually become the King of Israel. David, an ordinary kid chosen for the extraordinary task of ruling God’s people and transformed from a shepherd boy into a man after God’s own heart. (1 Samuel 16)
Consider Mary, a young teenager living in an small town called Nazareth when an angel appeared to tell her she was not only favored by God but chosen to play a part in His rescue story. Mary, an ordinary girl, chosen for the extraordinary task of giving birth to the Son of the Most High God. (Luke 1)
In each of these instances, God chose to use ordinary people in order to do what only He could do. Don’t think for a minute that Moses had even one ounce of ability to demand the Israelites’ release from captivity. That staff he wielded was powerless in his ordinary hands. Yet when he threw it down it became a serpent and when he held it up it parted a sea. That’s not the work of an ordinary man, but of an extraordinary God.
And don’t think that the stone slung from the hand of an ordinary shepherd boy had in itself the power to slay a giant. Or that David had what it took to make it as King. Yet, through the power of God, that stone hit its target with a fatal blow and that young giant-killer went on to later rule the children of Israel. That’s not the work of an ordinary man, but of an extraordinary God. And it’s that same God who alone had the power to knit together in Mary’s womb the Savior of the world. And it’s that same God who alone has the power to use our ordinary lives to do what only He can do to demonstrate His power and His might.
God doesn’t simply tolerate the ordinary as we might be tempted to think. He doesn’t resent our limitations or pity our powerlessness. Instead, He chooses us - the ordinary - to do His Kingdom work! He uses our weakness and our willingness. He uses our humility and our inability. He uses us to do things we could never do on their own so that He gets the glory.
And y’all, He downright deserves it!
Just imagine what God can and will do in our ordinary lives and with our ordinary families and in our ordinary marriages and at our ordinary jobs if we simply offer up our ordinary to Him. If we lay our day-to-day, moment-to-moment willingness at His feet as a living sacrifice and ask Him to work and move and use us in ways we could never even expect and that we could never do outside of His power. I have a feeling He’d do some pretty extraordinary things.
After all, when God is at work, ordinary is nothing less than extraordinary.