Before I begin, I want you all to know how much I love, respect, and cherish my wife. If you haven’t read it, she left a comment on my last post that reminded me again how amazing she is. This remarkable woman sacrifices so much every day for me and for our kids, yet she took the time to honor me publicly. How I love her and thank God for her!
And now to the post…
I grew up loving movies, novels, and comic books. I loved the thrill of adventure, the draw of the spectacular, and especially the attractiveness of the unbelievable. In comic books, I loved finding not your everyday heroes, but superheroes. In novels and movies, I loved science fiction like Star Trek or Michael Crichton novels. I loved off-the-wall action like Mission Impossible or James Bond. I was so drawn to the amazing, that I have spent much of my life imagining myself in spectacular situations, saving people, being a mutant with cool powers, flying in space, recording an album, or being on TV. I never wanted to be ordinary. No, I wanted to be extraordinary.
Now, I work in a cube in an office building that feels suspiciously like Dilbert. I live in a two bedroom apartment where the air conditioning isn’t even worth acknowledging. Both of the two cars we own threaten to fall apart at any second. I’m not a celebrity. And, as far as I know, I don’t have any superpowers. I am plain ordinary. This may seem ridiculous, but I’ve spent so much of my life imagining saving the day or being a household name that living an everyday life feels like a letdown. I sometimes look around and wonder, “Is this really it?”
The funny thing is that I don’t really think I’m alone. I’ve heard countless stories of people my age and older who have expressed similar sentiments about how life isn’t nearly as interesting as an adult as we all thought it would be. Just think about the answer you get when you ask any kid what they’re going to be when they grow up: firefighter, astronaut, actor, ballerina, etc. Where’s the lifelong dream to be a bank teller, garbage man, or factory worker? Almost all of us start with big dreams and then end up somewhere much less grandiose than we might have wished. Why is this experience so common?
Two responses come to mind as I work through this in my own life. First, I once heard a godly man discussing the different ways God has worked through history to reveal himself and save sinners. He talked about Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, the prophets, etc. In the midst of this, he mentioned that it’s easy to look at the Bible and think that there were exciting, miraculous things happening every day. But, as he pointed out, these types of things were actually atypical. There were many times years, decades, or centuries between a grandiose display of God’s power in the world. Most of God’s people in Bible times never saw the giving of the Law or a man rise from the dead or anything like that. Most people just lived ordinary lives in faith, looking to the promises of God. So I draw comfort from the fact that things really aren’t too different now.
Second, and this draws from the first, these ordinary lives are not called to be extraordinary, but to be faithful. And in that faithfulness, we trust in God’s promises. Without wanting to enter into any debate about the end times, the most pressing and important promise we have to look forward to at this point in history is the return of Jesus. It reminds me of the title of a Chris Rice song: “Run the Earth, Watch the Sky.” We’re here on Earth living out what feels to be a mundane life, yet we constantly look to the sky to see the Lord returning on the clouds. And to bring this discussion back around to where I started, it reminds me of a Switchfoot song that says, “We want more than this world’s got to offer…and everything inside screams for second life.” I think we want so much more out of this life because we feel like there ought to be so much more. But this life isn’t all there is. There is a new creation that everything around us is groaning for, though we don’t always realize it. And while we should learn to be content with our lives, it’s not a contentment that says this is the best it will get. It’s not. But it’s probably the best we’ll have in this life. I am convinced the yearnings we feel for greater joy are really God given cravings for “second life.”
In the end, the ordinary lives we lead are exactly the lives God has given us. Resentment about them is a lack of faith in God, for we are saying that what God has given us isn’t good enough for us. But a kind of discontentment that says “I don’t want this life forever–I want something better” looks to the sky while we run on this earth, serving Jesus with our bodies and minds. May it be so for you and me that we live every day to the fullest service and enjoyment we can while looking to sky eagerly awaiting Jesus to give us rest for our weary souls.