For many of us – if not most of us – today will be ordinary. Despite COVID-19’s life-altering impact on society, the rhythm of daily life is, for the love of neighbor, limited to the common, mundane, or trivial. Life, right now, possibly seems like a series of small, insignificant moments, and the ordinary – or new ordinary – routine might create the illusion of distance between God and us.
I say “illusion of distance” because we often, either knowingly or unknowingly, believe our experience of God is dependent on the extraordinary – the powerful sermon, the moving worship song, the exhilarating conference, or the miraculous encounter. The term “supernatural,” in many of our minds, is synonymous with uncommon, exciting, big, and novel moments.
We’re like Peter in Matthew 17:1-13 who, witnessing the transfigured Christ talking to Moses and Elijah, said, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If You wish, I will put up three shelters.” We desire to sustain extraordinary experiences because we believe our connection to God is dependent on the extraordinary. So in the midst of the boring, repetitive, and ordinary we might ask, “Where is God?”
But God is not limited to the extraordinary. James K. A. Smith writes, “Often we look for God in the extraordinary when He has promised to be present in the ordinary.” And I believe the Apostle Paul, speaking Acts 17:25-28 and writing Colossians 1:16-17, affirms God is God of the ordinary. Acts 17:25-28 says, “God himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being.’” And Colossians 1:16-17 writes, “For in Christ all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. All things were created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”
If God is “not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’” and in Christ “all things hold together,” then dividing the ideas of extraordinary and ordinary is a false distinction. Every moment, due to God’s sustainment of His creation (of our very being), is an experience of the supernatural. Every moment – cleaning the house, landscaping the yard, exercising, cooking and eating a meal, fellowshiping with family – offers the opportunity to touch eternity.
Yes God rejoices with us on the peaks of joy, yes God grieves with us in the valleys of sorrow, but He also walks with us through the plains of ordinary. Jesus’s incarnation – becoming human and living with us – redeems the average, showing daily life offers communion with God.
God is immediately present, He’s here, waiting for us to – in the words of Paul – “seek Him, and perhaps feel our way toward Him and find Him.” So, how can you walk with God through the ordinary today? How can you transform the social distancing routine into a spiritual liturgy to focus your desires and thoughts on God’s presence and truth?
What are your thoughts?