ordinariness

The Bible story sometimes involves the miraculous. When Yahweh saved the oppressed descendants of Abraham from cruel slavery to the Egyptians, there were signs and wonders galore. The Nile River turned to blood, darkness shrouded the land, waters parted – God was at work.

When Joshua and the Israelites took Jericho, a miracle brought down the city’s walls. When Daniel was saved from the lions’ den, a miracle happened. When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were tossed into a furnace of fire by wicked King Nebuchadnezzar, it took a miracle to deliver them.

Then, miracle above all miracles, when God acted in history to save us, Jesus of Nazareth was raised from the dead. The tomb could not hold him. Neither guards at the site nor all the demons of hell could defeat God’s purpose!

But the biblical narrative is more often about the ordinary. Far more is routine than spectacular. And the expectation of some that miraculous deliverance and supernatural intervention will become the norm in our lives is a misleading hope that can become a faith-destroying falsehood.

Take ancient Israel as an example. Once through the parted waters of the Red Sea, that vast company of people under Moses’ leadership lived in the wilderness for forty years. Think not only of Daniel and the three Hebrews thrown into Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace but Joseph or Rahab or John the Baptist or Silas. The list just goes on and on – until it includes our names as well.

Against the occasional miracle, most of the events in the lives of these people were routine and ordinary. Trekking in hot sand. Working under a foreign government. Surviving in jail without being raped or killed by another inmate. Dealing with criticism from religious people and working through self-doubt.

God has performed many miracles in history and still shows himself in occasional bright moments of supernatural presence. Those become part of our history and help ground our faith. But those events are at his initiative and for his sovereign purposes. He more typically saves in our ordinariness.

In Jesus, we learn the lesson of Emmanuel – God is with us. He is with us to work redemptively in our job losses and disappointments, addictions and illnesses, setbacks and heartaches, accidents and aging, wounds and death.

Your utterly ordinary life is God’s perfect environment for molding you into the person he wants you to be. The person you were meant to be.

Reprinted from Rubel Shelly’s FAX of Life.

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