The following is written by Amanda Bristol. Amanda is a member of Seven Mile Road Church.
I don’t know about you, but growing up I had a very clear vision in my mind of how my life was going to play out. I thought I was going to grow up, change the world, and be the next Mother Teresa. Then out of nowhere, God threw an unexpected curve-ball:
He called me to Philadelphia.
Really God, Philly? What is even in Philly? My exact thoughts were, “There is no way I can change the world from there. Send me to Africa or the Philippines…anywhere but there.” A year and a half ago God called me from Honduras to Philly and to what I thought was a simple, ordinary life. Most people’s definitions of ordinary is less than boring. The word nowadays is looked down on and criticized. Through many struggles and low valleys, God has been showing me the opposite. I have learned that ordinary is simply being who God has called you to be right where you are in the everyday mundane, glorifying God and serving others.
What in the world does that even mean? No one says my life goal is to be ordinary, but what if being ordinary is exactly what God wants from us? This is what I have learned: it means first living out God’s calling. It means getting up on Monday morning and going to a job you may or may not feel like going to. It looks like reaching out to people that you may not like because they need that same grace you need every day. It means faithfully serving God’s people with joy. I am finding it takes more courage for me to do that than to live overseas. Everyone wants to save the world, most people don’t want to love their neighbor.
It also looks like being where God has put you right now and being thankful for it. God has put us in certain places on purpose. His calling me to Philly had a purpose- a purpose I definitely did not see or want or like at the time. If we are being honest, it is hard to find a purpose when you’re a mom changing diapers all day or a student doing endless amounts of reading and writing. We grow restless and impatient wanting something more than the everyday. One truth I have come to realize is it is not the big moments, but the little moments that count. Paul Tripp says, “We all live in an endless series of little moments. The character of a life isn’t set in ten big moments. The character of a life is set in ten thousand little moments of everyday life.” It’s not the big moments but the million everyday ones that God can and does use for His glory and purpose. That has given me a greater perspective on my seemingly ordinary life.
But why? Why be ordinary when you can be extraordinary? Why even get up on a rainy Monday to do it all over again the next week?
To glorify God and serve people. These are the two greatest commandments, loving Him and serving people. My ordinary life has purpose when it has an object that is greater than I. It also has led me to greater contentment that I can truly rest in who I am and the body of Christ He has placed me in. Recently, Pastor Ajay preached on Priscilla and Aquila. They were ordinary tent-makers who affected the spread of the gospel through glorifying God and serving His people, namely Apollos. It’s not just the Mother Teresa’s of the world, but also us ordinary people whom God has chosen to spread the gospel. Our works are not about us earning a place before God, but are directed to our neighbors on God’s behalf for the glory of His name.
It takes God’s strength and grace to be faithful. It takes a lot more courage to be faithful in the ordinary than to be the next greatest fill-in-the-blank. God uses ordinary people and circumstances for His glory. So living the ordinary life probably will not be remembered, but it is what makes a life. And in the end I am learning that living the ordinary life can actually be extraordinary when it is used for God’s fame and glory.