Sometimes there’s so much writing to do, so much teaching to prepare for, and so many people to talk with… that I can run into the danger of forgetting that my message means nothing unless it emerges from my day-to-day experience as a regular person making my way in a sometimes markedly un-inspirational world.
It’s actually a useful thought to have. In fact it was the exact beginning point of my first serious writing project. I started with the following scripture from 2 Corinthians 4 (7-10), and it’s not a bad place to return to:
But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies.
ADVENTURE! When I was a child I read a lot of adventure books, and I was captured by exciting testimonies from Christians who had remarkable experiences. My heroes were people like the explorer/missionary David Livingstone, Corrie ten Boom (The Hiding Place), former gang leader Nicky Cruz (The Cross & the Switchblade), Bible-smuggler Andrew van der Bijl (Brother Andrew), and British Rock icon Cliff Richard.
I wanted to have those kind of stories to tell!
The preface to GET REAL (pp 9-10) references a point in my life where I “suddenly realized that I was a schoolteacher, comfortably married with two children, content in my suburban home. I attended church every Sunday, drove fairly close to the speed limit, watched too much television, and paid my taxes. I had never been in trouble; everyone knew me as kind and easygoing. To tell you the truth,” – I wrote – “I was a little disappointed in myself.”
ORDINARY: That’s when a liberating, wonderful truth dawned on me. My ordinariness; the place where I live, and work, and play; the humdrum of life; the routine; the expected; the relationships I take for granted; the everyday – this is the exact venue where God purposes to shine.
We are just clay jars, so it is obvious that the extraordinary impact of the Gospel of Love belongs to God and is in no way attributable to us. Life can be difficult, and confusing, and disappointing; but the good news of the Gospel of Love holds us up, holds us together, holds us in God’s arms. Fact is, because Jesus died for us, his life is actually resident in the core of who we are (author paraphrase).
So this morning I’m conscious of the fact that God takes my ordinariness as an extraordinary opportunity for the Good News to take root, to take hold, and to take off. Me? I’ve got nothing. It’s all Jesus.