Written By: Gay Idle
We are living in times that demand that we all be extraordinary.
Just look at social media.
So many are striving to make a name for themselves…or build a platform for their business. Saying, in essence, “look at me…I’m special…watch my reels…do what I do…buy what I buy, or buy what I’ve created…it’s extraordinary…I’m extraordinary…you too, can be extraordinary!”
This leaves us feeling anything but extraordinary as we compare ourselves to all the others on social media who seem to be living idyllic lives, with their seemingly angelic children, spotlessly organized homes, amazing pets, and beautiful smiles. We watch as people claim, either to have never experienced any hardships because they have it all figured out, or say that their hardships are well behind them and now they are prepared to sail off into a perfectly, peacefully settled sunset…and help you do the same. Uggghhh! Do you ever feel like it is all just TOO MUCH?!
Unless we realize that comparison indeed can be the thief of joy, we are at risk of joining the vast numbers of people finding themselves dealing with depression as a result of all this excessive social media mania.
Yes, there are many truly good resources to be found on social media platforms. Some resources are sources of encouragement and are there to spur us on to not just be our “best selves”, but to press into who God has created us to be. We at Pretty & Wise strive to help women live bravely and boldly into their calling. And most of us have lived long enough lives to realize this truism …
“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for extraordinary destiny.” ~ Reepicheep, the film version of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
Yes. It is true that God calls us to proclaim his goodness through hardships and trials. But, that is not the only way He shows Himself in the process of our journey through this life.
Most often, God calls us in the midst of our ordinary so that He might accomplish His extraordinary purposes.
How do I know this? We see so many individuals throughout scripture just living their ordinary lives when God calls them out to accomplish His extraordinary purposes. People like Joseph, Moses, David, Esther, and so many more. They weren’t called because they were extraordinary, but because our amazing God called them to accomplish extraordinary things to accomplish His will. He did not call them because they were already equipped with all they needed to carry out His will. It is God, Himself, who accomplishes the work through those who are willing to place themselves into His miracle-working hands.
James reiterates this point when he tells us that
“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth” (James 5:17).
Did you get that? He was a man ‘with a nature like ours’. He surely doubted his own abilities, but He trusted God was true to His Word and because of that, God did a mighty miracle on his behalf.
So let’s look back at what influences we are allowing into our lives and the messages they bring. Is it the prevalent message that life is to be lived as an over-the-top adventure that will bring amazing rewards? The ‘go for the gusto’, ‘be all you can be’, and ‘be your best self’? We think that aspiring to these great heights will help us to build the beautifully fulfilled life that we all crave. But when we fail or when we fall, we are left wondering…what the heck?! We have set ourselves up for a deep discontent that digs itself deep into our souls.
So what are we to do? As Christians, we should aspire to live a life that is worthy of the calling we have received (Ephesians 4:1). Our aim is to please God, not because we want His favor but because of our love for Him. God does not shine His favor on us because of our own accomplishments, but because of His great love for us. That’s such a relief to me when I feel that I’m failing on so many levels.
I believe that God calls us as we are going about our daily life…in the midst of our ordinary…when we are actively seeking His presence in the midst of meetings at work, doing the dishes, changing diapers, or folding laundry. We need to get in the habit of acknowledging His presence in every moment.
God is not just there for us in the trials and hard moments of life. He is with us in the dailies, in every moment of our ordinary lives. Living into our simple and ordinary life provides the springboard to discovering innumerable opportunities for extraordinary faithfulness, obedience, and devotion to God.
In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul is instructing believers to live their life in a way that will please God. He is in fact commending them for obediently living out God’s commands and urging them to stay strong (Thess. 4:1-8). He goes on to commend them for their love for one another and urges them to do more so in verse 9. And finally, in verse 11 we read this,
“Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, ”
Lead a quiet life
Mind your own affairs
Work with your hands
Our aspiration…our ambition…the drive within us…should be to lead a quiet life. Not be a busybody. Do simple work. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like heaven to me. So excuse me while I go live in a cottage on the beach, do some vocal coaching, and work on my book! Well…maybe not. We’re not called to live this way in order to turn away from the world. The very next verse tells us why this is important.
“...so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.” vs. 12
To walk properly before outsiders. It’s all about our witness in this world. We are to live lives of integrity so that our witness for Christ is credible. This is what living this one ordinary life is all about.
1 Timothy 2:1-2 bears this out:
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”
In the midst of our ordinary moments, He calls us deeper still to something beyond what we are able to accomplish on our own. It’s hard to imagine that God calls us out of the daily tasks of everyday life…and yet He does.
Zechariah, in talking about God’s pleasure in the construction of the temple states this, “Who [with reason] despises the day of small things (beginnings)?” (Zechariah 4:10a, AMP).
Who indeed? The temple of God is the place where the Holy Spirit resides. Today the Holy Spirit resides in believers. “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
Please, let’s not despise this one ordinary life we have been given. We all begin somewhere. No matter how small and insignificant our daily routines may seem to be…this one ordinary life will be the vessel through which God accomplishes HIS extraordinary purpose.
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