Do you long for an extraordinary experience?
On Saturday December 9, 1989, I played in the biggest football game of my life. It was the last game of my senior year at the University of Dayton; we played the Union College Dutchman in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl. This was the 17th annual NCAA Division III National Championship game.
After we beat Union 17-10, we celebrated at midfield. Friends and family that traveled to Phoneix City, AL joined us in the frenzy. We were thrilled as we celebrated this victory; not many athletes win the title of NCAA Champion. Many of us had played football since we were in grade school, and this was truly a special day.
Coach Mike Kelly, 5th all time winningest coach among those who coached 25+ years at any NCAA level, led us in celebration on the field (after congratulating our opponent). He congratulated us with all sincerity. Then, he taught a remarkable life lesson telling us, “Men enjoy the victory today. Today you are the best Division III football team in the country. Enjoy it. Tomorrow, that accomplishment is over, and we go back to work.” With that we had a brief prayer, one last team cheer, then we headed to the locker room to pack for the trip back to Ohio.
Last week, my colleague Bob Boerner issued a challenge to live our daily lives with a spiritual intentionality. In and through our relationship with the Lord, we can embrace the mundane. I want to affirm that message. In fact, I want to press us all to evaluate our “mindset” and “heartset.” Are you longing for an existence that stands out as ‘remarkable?’ Do you expect that every day is a “Stagg Bowl Victory” sort-of-day? Pastor and professor Zack Eswine penned these words: “Seeing God’s glory, hearing his voice, receiving his good news, and beholding his love was never meant to deliver us from ordinary life and love in a place – it was meant to preserve us there.” Similarly, Eswine wrote, “For many of us, the thought that we would live our lives as an average, usual, or humdrum person or pastor [or business leader I might add] has scared us for years.” [See Sensing Jesus, Life and Ministry as a Human Being, by Zack Eswine.]
We catch glimpses of God doing wonderful things through ordinary people as we peruse the scriptures. Abraham and Sarah struggled with infertility prior to become the ‘Father of Nations.’ Moses stuttered and shunned leadership. Elijah was mocked because of his lack of hair (a particularly sensitive area for men with heads like mine). Rahab was a prostitute that the Lord provided to help lead a few Israelite spies to safety. Gomer was prostitute the Lord commanded Hosea to marry, so that his life and marriage would serve a metaphor for God’s love for His people despite their wretchedness. These names and life stories do seem a bit dramatic, but the theme is that God uses ordinary (& broken people) to accomplish his plan. The shepherds keeping watch over their flock at night were the first people to whom God reveled His son in the baby Jesus. After this wonderful experience, the shepherds went back to work. (Luke 2:20) Likewise, in the gospel on John, chapter 21, the disciples went back to fishing after they saw the resurrected Christ (for the second time).
How are you feeling about your place in life? Perhaps you’ve had a recent job review, or you’ve finished a large project at work. Are you looking for the next big promotion or opportunity? Maybe your marriage is “losing its luster.” Consider the pattern illustrated throughout scripture. God uses the ordinary to accomplish His will. God reveals His glory to us in order to provide us staying power. Unless He has called you to a different place, get to work loving the folks among whom he has placed you. Most of us will live lives that are quite ordinary, and that is a beautiful thing when recognize that the Lord has us where we are.