I read this quote from Henry Gariepy (of Salvation Army) the other day: "God still draws near to us in the ordinary, commonplace, everyday experiences and places... He comes in surprising ways."
I love the heart of this quote because it is SO true! God absolutely draws near to us in the ordinary and commonplace. Truly, if it were not for that, where would He meet us? As the years go by I am drawn to this concept more and more. When we're younger it seems that "hilltop" experiences such as time at a youth rally or retreat are the focus, desire, and hope of our spiritual lives. But as we get older, there is a shifting of focus, of perspective, and perhaps just a smidge more wisdom.
I have gotten to the point where each day, as I go about the "menial" tasks of daily life, I focus on seeing the Lord in them and I strive to do them for His glory. As a result, I find that I enjoy these tasks more and more. Can doing the dishes be pleasurable? I am going to say yes, it can. What about washing the windows? Laundry? Vacuuming? Mopping? I am again going to say yes. Rather than looking at "chores" as an inconvenience and something to get out of the way, I have started seeing them as a blessing, a time to slow down, and reflect.
While washing clothes or vacuuming, I am given time to dwell on the gracious gift given in being able to work with my hands (see Proverbs 31:13-31). As I wash windows, I reflect on the fact that the Lord has washed me clean from all my sin and the stains that once barred me from His throne. When preparing dinner, I am reminded to thank God for His provision. In making it, I am given an opportunity to use the creativity He has placed within me. When I do each of these things as unto the Lord, I know He is pleased with them and then I become pleased with them, too.
In the ordinary, the extraordinary can often take place. The mundane is transformed into the spiritual. Chores become sanctified, and the false dichotomy of sacred and secular vanishes until all that is left is the sacred, a meeting place with God.
A preacher has been fined for quoting the Levitical Law, a minister who denies God's existence still wants to be a minister - and doesn't appreciate being told he's not Christian, a college ministry is being kicked off campus due to the requirement that its leaders be Christians, the Presbyterian branch has decided to redefine marriage, the East is buried under snow, the West in in extreme drought conditions, California has one year of water reserves left, and the universe is going to implode in 3... 2... 1.
Some days I look at all the news that flashes across my desktop and think, 'Wow, it can't get much worse.' Then it does. It gets worse. Unbelievably, people find a way to make it worse. Legislation gets passed or a judge redefines the law, the very underpinning of our moral society gets removed or replaced and things get worse. At times like that, part of me wants to throw up my hands and declare, "I quit!" then promptly pack my bags, move out to the country, and live "off the grid" in my own little cocoon of no internet, no "noise," no people shooting each other, no pastors getting arrested for preaching the Bible, no country that has seemingly lost its way and is hurtling down a path of destruction. Just me, the land, my LORD, and wide open spaces.
But sense returns. I am not an ostrich and I cannot bury my head in the sand. Time is short and I have been given a job to do. As a matter of fact, we all have. Go, declare, preach, and teach. WE have been commissioned by the Lord on high to tell the world about the goodness, grace, and hope of the Gospel. WE have been commissioned to reach out to the lost. There are so many people wandering in our little spheres of life and we largely walk around willingly ignorant of their existence. But the Lord said to go to ALL the world. That means everyone. Your next door neighbor and coworker. The homeless person you pass every day going to work and the Muslim who frequents the newly built mosque down the block.
Individual churches can only do so much, but that should not stop us individually from doing more. My church doesn't have a supported deaf ministry, but for the longest time we had a faithful servant who volunteered her Sunday mornings to ensure the deaf had a place to "hear" the word that was preached. We don't have a homeless ministry, but another lady has brought opportunities to the church body to help with a ministry that does reach out to that community. Individual churches can't do it all, but we as a body of Christ have been charged with doing exactly that - going, reaching, teaching, and preaching to ALL the world. Unless we start doing our part to impact the small sphere of influence the Lord has given us, this hopeless world will only grow more devoid of hope and there will soon come a time when our heads might as well be buried in the sand because we won't be here to do anything about it.
I find myself coming back to this theme a lot lately. Probably more than any other time in life thus far. Because I am actively living and walking in a place where trust is a daily necessity. I do not need to be reminded to trust the Lord - it is the way I must walk, move, and breathe. Do I fail? Oh, daily. I am human, I am frail, and I rejoice in the fact that "he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust" Psalm 103:14. The Lord knows that I won't always perfectly trust Him. He knows that I'll fail and fall into worry. But He gives grace, too. And He reminds me to look up from the uncertainty and fix my eyes upon His face and worry no more.
Every single person I know is in a different place in their walk with the Lord and stage in life but one common thread weaves us all together - the necessity to trust in the Lord. Regardless of where we find ourselves in this life, we must trust the Lord with it all. We must place every single little aspect and detail of our lives in His hands and trust Him with it.
Do we have a plan and an idea of what the Lord wants us to do? We need to trust Him to bring it about. Do we have absolutely no idea at all and are in the "waiting room" of life? We must then trust that He has a plan and will bring about something for our good and His glory. No matter where we find ourselves, no matter what stage, we all need to taste and see, we all need to trust, because the Lord is good and we will be blessed if we trust in Him. If we hand Him our hopes, hand Him our dreams, hand Him our desires and worries and fears... we will be blessed. Because we will be given the opportunity to see what He does when we let go of our situations and allow Him full control to work in them.
Trust. It's a daily experience. But you know what is awesome? You know what is absolutely and utterly beautiful? Through trusting in the LORD, there is hope, peace, confidence, and joy.
There is hope because, through trust, you place your desires in something beyond this world of temporal existence. There is peace because you give over to Another all the concerns you hold and place them in the hands of the One who holds the earth in place. There is confidence because you walk, knowing that nothing is outside of His control, His good and sovereign plan, His reach, His hand. And there is joy because your pleasure is derived, not from outward circumstances or situations, but in the great love and pleasure of the One who loves you.
Walking in trust begets a total surrender of will, of self, of "thine own understanding." It begets heads raised high, shoulders squared, boldly walking where the LORD leads, be it known or unclear, rock-strewn or paved. It begets a life lived beautifully and well - for what better kind of life is there than one filled with hope, peace, confidence, and joy? A life lived well is a life of trust in our LORD and Savior.
I'd like to introduce you to someone. His name is Penn Jillette and he is a self-avowed atheist. He regularly mocks anything to do with religion or belief in the Bible and God (or the Qur'an, Torah, or any other form of religion). Some time ago, however, in a video on YouTube, Penn shared about a time when an audience member gave him a Bible. The audience member's actions brought about some reflection on Penn's part and he recorded a video to share his thoughts. While I've included the video below, here is a quick quote of Penn's words from that clip:
"If you believe that there is a heaven and a hell and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think that, 'Well, it's not really worth telling them this because it could make it socially awkward...' [pause] How much do you have to hate somebody to NOT proselytize? How much do you have to hate someone to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? I mean, if I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that a truck was coming at you and you didn't believe it... that truck was bearing down on you... there's a certain point where I tackle you - and this is MORE important than that." - Penn Jillette
These are good words - and condemning ones. In our day of political correctness and never offending anyone, much of the western Church has become impotent when it comes to sharing the Gospel. But the Gospel is not some fairy tail we have the option of speaking about! This is Truth and we are commanded to share it! Is it easy? Not always. Will it be awkward? Sometimes. But let me tell you, I'm glad someone broke through the concerns of political correctness and potential awkwardness to share the Gospel with me! I bet you are, too.
My friends, let's get practicing our "tackle."