Sun 14 Jun
God in my Ordinary
The first warm days of June always bring back memories of summer’s past. I remember one summer as a youth I decided to join the local rep baseball team. I was just learning the game at that point and it was mostly the kindness of the coach that enabled me to be on the team. I remember grabbing a wood bat and walking up to the plate and thinking, “Why is it so hard to hit that crazy ball?” The older guys made it look pretty easy. It is just a piece of wood in my hands. A ball. Simple, right? “Strike three, yerrr OUT!”
There are many elements of daily life that seem simple. We have our routines for school, work, friends, and family. We have the basic possessions and daily tools we use to get through life. Like a kid with a baseball bat, we take the simple things in our hands and try to make stuff happen. Sometimes things work well. “A base hit.” Sometimes they don’t. “Yerrrr out!” In the commonness of all of this, life can feel quite mundane. Have you ever felt that way?
I am struck by one of the fascinating stories in Scripture. In Exodus 4, God miraculously appears to Moses and speaks to him through a burning bush. In Exodus 4:2 God asks Moses, “What is that in your hand?” Moses replies, “A staff.” It was a walking stick, a basic tool of a shepherd for guiding sheep and staying steady on a rough terrain. It was nothing special, for sure. It was just a big wood stick. God calls him to throw it down on the ground and it instantly turns into a serpent. Yikes! Moses runs and hides. God calls him to come back and pick it up by the tail (the best way to ensure you get bit by the snake). Poof, It turns back into a rod. With that powerful illustration, God shows Moses that if Moses will partner with God, God will take all of the common elements of Moses’ life, from his poor speaking abilities (maybe even a disability) to his staff, and work in surprisingly powerful ways to help rescue a whole nation. In fact, from that point on, this staff is no longer called the staff of Moses but now, the staff of God. God will work through Moses and this staff to miraculously unleash plagues on Egypt, to part the Red Sea for the people of Israel, and to produce water from a rock to satisfy their thirst in the desert. Talk about hitting some upper deck home runs!
So what does this story show me about God’s approach to my life? God comes to me as asks, “So Tim, what’s that you’ve got there?” I look around and I see some pretty average stuff: a plain wardrobe, a black base-model Corolla, a laptop, a smartphone, a middle class house, and of course, my awesome family. As I take a mental inventory, God then whispers, “Will you lay this down before me and allow me these to become mine?” It sounds simple enough but in that moment, I am challenged. Do I believe God can work through my very common life? Can my Corolla become the Corolla of God? Can my smartphone become the smartphone of God? They may never turn into snakes or part the waters (although that would be a very cool trick at a neighbour’s pool party), but can I release them to God to be his tools and useful for his work in the world?
It is amazing how God wants to work in the very ordinary aspects of our lives. God has an amazing rescue mission on the go and he is out recruiting people to join him. Whether it is a shepherd with a walking stick or a kid with a baseball bat or an urban professional with a smartphone, God comes to us and asks, “What is that in your hand?” Once we lay it down, then the really cool stuff starts to happen.