Sunday, January 3, 2016

Exceptional in the Ordinary

exceptionalinordinary


When I stumbled across this quote while reading yesterday, Chambers' words stopped me in my tracks.


You see, several years ago I joined my then-congregation in a 40-day reading of a best-selling book by a renowned Christian author. The premise of the book is that God has a grand purpose for every single Christian, and once we discover that plan and live accordingly . . . well, wonderful things will happen.


I devoured that book, hi-lighting and underlining and annotating in the margin. I met with a small group each week to discuss the week's reading and how it was applicable to our lives, and I listened carefully every Sunday as the pastor preached on the topic of discovering and embracing God's plan for ourselves.


The 40 day study came to an end; I prayed and prayed for God to reveal His grand plan for me. No grand revelations; no doors to wonderful opportunities opened.


I figured I was doing something wrong. I read other books by other renowned Christian authors, convinced that one of them would reveal what it was I needed to do to find out what my big plan was.


Still, no grand revelations and no doors magically opened.


I eventually decided I was pestering God. I had been operating on the "pray without ceasing" principle, but then I read that this referred to praying in all things, not praying about the same thing ad nauseum.


I switched to the "leave it in God's hands" principle. Still no grand revelation or opened door, but I then I realized that while I hadn't been actively praying about my grand purpose, I had been *thinking* about it quite a bit. I reasoned that since God knows everything I'm thinking, I was still, in a not-so-direct way, pestering Him.


I'd like to say that I became spiritually mature and truly left the matter in God's hands, but that isn't the case. In truth, I just got tired of asking and not getting an answer and, in the busy-ness of work and home and family obligations, the idea of a grand plan faded to the background. I focused simply on getting through the little things that make up every day.


Then I saw this quote. I immediately remembered how, when my first child was born, I saw being a wife and a mother as my calling, at least for that stage of my life. I remembered how I tried to think of cooking and cleaning and changing diapers not as chores, but as integral parts of the grand purpose I had. As a result, I felt very fulfilled, at peace with where I was in the grand scheme of things, even when I was picking dried play-dough out of the carpet.


Both children graduated from high school and went away to college; no longer did being a mom fill my days. I joined my congregation in reading that best-selling book, and I began to wonder what God was calling me to as an empty-nester. Then my husband passed away, and for several years, as I navigated through my new life, I didn't give much thought at all to any grand purpose or plan.


In the last couple of years, though, that has changed. I've yearned to know what God's plan is for me in this new stage of my life. As before, I prayed and prayed; then I remembered to leave it in God's hand, so I did.


No grand plan revealed. No doors opened.


And then yesterday, I read "You have to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life, and holy on the ordinary streets among the ordinary people."


Perhaps that is my grand purpose. Maybe God's plan for me -- right now, at least, and maybe for the remainder of my life -- is that I drastically alter how I go the ordinariness of each day.


Part of me protests that I do try to be exceptional in my job and as a mother of grown children. And I do, although I'm not always successful.


But what about in other areas of my life? As I navigate rush hour traffic, as I stand in the slowest-moving line in the grocery store, as I wait 2 hours to see a doctor for 5 minutes.


I must admit that being "exceptional" at those times never crosses my mind. Yet those are the ordinary things of life.


I googled this quote, to read it in context, and I found that Chambers didn't stop after the word "people". He goes on to say . . .


"and this is not learned in 5 minutes."


I'm relieved. God doesn't expect me to be "extraordinary in the ordinary" right away. He's going to teach me.


Isn't that a grand plan?


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Even though there were only 2 "January days" this week, I wanted to post my first challenges update:


Week 1


January 16 in 2016 challenge to ruthlessly sort through all my possessions:  sorted everything in the living & dining area, the living room storage closet, and the kitchen


Write 365 (write every day) -- worked on my book January 1 and blogged on January 2 (so far, so good)


52 Books in 52 Weeks -- Read A Hearth in Candlewood by Delia Parr and have begun reading Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman


1 comment:

  1. Awesome post, Patti. Oswald Chambers speaks to me too. He lived his life by, "Trust God and take the next step." Here's to seeing how your 2016 unfolds.

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