February 19, 2017
While the fire ebbs in the stove, Emma lies on the hearth rug as I write and Linda reads. It's been a quiet afternoon. Dinner preparation looks to the uninitiated to be chaotic, with Linda, Jessie, and Jeanine bustling about the kitchen, Matt setting the table, and kids running around all over the house. But once the feasting is over and the dishes done, life settles down...to ordinary. I hate to admit it, but most of our life is pretty ordinary. George Jones used to sing, "We're not the jet set; We're the old Chevrolet set," with the Chevrolet being pronounced as it looks, not as it actually is. That would be us. Life is busy. We have people and activity in our lives, but it's pretty ho-hum most of the time. And most of the time, that suits me fine.
But every so often, I begin to ponder what "ordinary" really means. Predictable. Uneventful. Plain-Jane. It can be busy, but ordinary means "same-old, same-old," which describes most of my life right now. It's not bad; it's just ordinary. Ordinary can actually be quite pleasant. Tonight's fire feels much better than shivering out in the cold. Predictable means I'm not worried about whether or not I'll be able to eat tomorrow, or whether or not my wife will love me. I don't go to bed at night fearful that the violence in the streets outside barred windows and doors will somehow be able to infiltrate the protective barriers between me and them.
But does predictable also mean I don't have to trust God? It's one thing to pray before a meal, asking God's blessing on what we're about to consume. It's quite another to do so when the plates are empty and nothing is on the table. It is easy to speak of the "peace that passes understanding" when we live in peaceful settings, but what does that peace look like if I live where Christians are the minority and the majority religious and political authorities can swoop in with impunity to confiscate everything I own, even my life? Does predictable mean I've allowed myself to become complacent or apathetic? Does it make my faith a little less faithful?
Perhaps it's time to move out of predictable toward the edge where if God doesn't come through the entire enterprise will collapse. Perhaps it's time to move from comfort to confrontation, from ease to exercise. Ordinary feels good, but feeling good is not why we're here. God has given life and resources as tools for faithful and fruitful living. And it is impossible to be faithful and not fruitful. Tonight in the comfort of my home, if I listen carefully enough, I suspect I'll hear God's whisper to come out, to step forth, leaving behind the comfort of ordinariness and reach forth towards a life that is impossible apart from daily dependence on the Holy Spirit. I'm grateful for the challenge...I think. I'll let you know how it goes.