Embracing the Ordinary

Ordinary. Mundane. Routine. Actually I’m tempted to add to the list the word “boring”.

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There are times when I feel like I am on a mission to change the world. Going to mission trips, accomplishing a seemingly impossible project, meeting awesome people, trying to be an influence to the younger generation – these are awesome moments in life that has been chronicled in my memory. Yet after the “highs” then come occasional “lows”. These are seasons in life when trials try to pound and break you. By God’s grace, I always come out victorious, but not without battle scars and without shedding tears.

Embracing the OrdinaryI don’t think I am the only one who feels life like this. Christian life is not always characterized by “highs”. Jesus didn’t gave us any promise that our life on earth would turn to be very ideal once we accepted Him as Lord and Savior. Yet to be fair, Christian life is not always characterized by “lows” as well, though there will be expected seasons when our faith will be shaken to the core because of our belief. To be a Christian is to journey with Jesus in the “highs and lows” of life here on earth onto eternal life.

I call these “highs and lows” of life as extraordinary events. These are seasons – temporary moments that is not expected to last for keeps – that adds to the thrill of being a Christian. I consider these times as testing periods. When these moments come, our characters are being refined. It may add or take away flavor to our saltiness, brighten or dim the glow to our light.

Yet how do we define those times when life seems to run on a plateau? I have a few words to describe such period:

Ordinary. Mundane. Routine. Actually I’m tempted to add to the list the word “boring”.

A lot of times I have found ourselves whining about the mundane aspects of life – going to work on weekdays, going to church on Sundays, occasional visits to mall, bookstores, or spending lazy moments at home. This has been the case for more than two decades of my journey here on earth.

God doesn’t respond to our selfish whims and desires like how I wanted Him to show Himself in random times of my ordinary days. God has no reason to show off just because I am bored with my daily routine. He is able to do that if He wants to, but why would He?

During these ordinary moments, I crave for mighty moving of the Spirit to bring me to a situation where my faith will be exercised. I want life to be full of excitement. I want life to be full of adventure. I don’t want life to be plain, I want a flavorful spiritual life. I long for His manifest presence, when I can just feel Him physically near me.

But life is not like that. God doesn’t respond to our selfish whims and desires like how I wanted Him to show Himself in random times of my ordinary days. God has no reason to show off just because I am bored with my daily routine. He is able to do that if He wants to, but why would He?

Borrowing the context from a school calendar, if “highs and lows” are testing seasons, then ordinary days are like our lecture days. During these ordinary, mundane, routine days we accumulate the lessons we need to pass our tests. These seemingly “boring” moments in life – much longer than the testing periods, is the key that determines our maturity. It is not in the “highs and lows” we grow spiritually; it is during the ordinary days. Our tests just determine how “Christ-like” we have become during the ordinary days.

The thing is we are not a fan of the ordinary. Just like me, majority of us whine when there isn’t too much adventure on our course. We want thrill. We want flavor. We want “highs” (who will desire for “lows” anyway). Going to work on a daily basis is ordinary. Going to church on Sundays is ordinary. Spending time with the family is ordinary. While we cannot live apart from these ordinary activities, deep within us we want to break free from the routine and the familiar.

The problem is not in the changing seasons of life. The problem is in the way we view life.

Is there a way we can break free from the ordinary? I don’t think so. Even if we become accustomed to a life of “highs”, sooner or later we will find the constant “highs” as ordinary.

The problem is not in the changing seasons of life. The problem is in the way we view life.

We can embrace the ordinary activities that we have with the awareness of an extraordinary God who commissioned these ordinary duties for us to do. At the back of our mind, we desire to go on a mission to change the world. Yet God has this mission that whenever we are busy filing papers in the office for His glory, He is changing our world. As we seek to be an influence in the community with life-altering activities we organize at the back of our mind, God prepares us to be an influence first from the way we treat our spouse, our children, our neighbor and our boss. We view our day-to-day actions and interactions as ordinary and mundane, yet God is busy working extraordinary work in us through things we consider as mundane.

Paul encourages us,

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:17

As long as we view God in high regard, these ordinary things in our ordinary days will have more value in our lives. We will see these ordinary things as vital ingredients in our spiritual journey.

In this world where the mantra is YOLO and breaking from the routine is the new normal, as followers of the Lord we need not fear nor loathe the ordinary and the mundane. Remember, out of the most mundane of things, the dust of the ground, God has created His most prized creation – you and me.

Join me in embracing the ordinary.

Author: Marts Valenzuela

To know Christ and make Him known.

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