The Extraordinary Ordinary Days

I am good at chasing highs. The day after Thanksgiving, I am racing to the Christmas tree farm, ready to begin the festivities I have been dreaming of since I felt the first gust of cold wind late August. When March comes around, I blast “Resurrection Letters”, by Andrew Peterson, twenty four seven, while I dream of my garden’s resurrection. But when April comes around, and the hymns of comfort and hope are nothing more than a distant echo, I find myself empty handed. For the next eight months, I have nothing but routine. Ordinary days. And those, my friend, I am not so sure what to do with. You may not know what to do with them either.

We know how to celebrate Jesus loudly and proudly with ornaments, songs, delicious treats and extravagant gifts. But how do we celebrate Jesus with long work days, dirty diapers, drives to school and back, lonely evenings, sick days, early mornings, never ending homework, taxes and microwave meals? I know, I may be exaggerating how tedious or challenging our day to day living may be. But you know that, exaggerating or not, I am right. It is far easier to be romantic on February fourteen than on October five, It is also much easier to be a Christian during Christmas or Easter than during the rest of the year.

What then, do I do with the Babe in the Manger in the middle of April? How should I feel about the empty tomb as September comes around the corner? I’ve found an answer in Matthew 5:3, where it says: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus came to birth a better kingdom, one built on a foundation of love rather than selfishness. And such a kingdom, according to Jesus, belongs not to those who jump from high to high in life, but to those whose lives feel full of ordinary, often draining, days. Implicit in his blessing is Jesus’ invitation to give Him our ordinary days, as it is in those where His Kingdom grows stronger.

Don’t believe me? Check out the following parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, 32 which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31-32) In his parable, Jesus doesn’t compare the Kingdom of God to a pumpkin seed, or any other large enough seed that you may think of. He intentionally chooses one of the smallest, easiest to lose, seeds possible. Why? Because the kingdom grows more often than not in the ordinary days. By doing so, God is able to do something extraordinary with our ordinary. Think about it: isn’t romance more an ongoing daily work of attention and service than a once a year event? Isn’t parenting more a labor of love than a one hour a week lecture? Relationships, including the one we claim to have with God, exist more in the lows than in the highs. In the ordinary than in the extraordinary. While there is nothing wrong with highs, they are not what true love is made of. Neither are they what builds up the Kingdom of God.

So, my challenge to myself is to give God my poverty. My routine. My daily life. It is in that soil that He promises to sow, grow, and harvest the Kingdom of God and its righteousness. When I do that, I am promised that all other things, like festive days, will be added.

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