Monday, February 18, 2008

God in the ordinary

I saw this this morning on the Idle musings of a bookseller blog. From today's My Utmost for His Highest devotional:

When the Spirit of God comes to us, He does not give us glorious visions, but He tells us to do the most ordinary things imaginable. Depression tends to turn us away from the everyday things of God’s creation. But whenever God steps in, His inspiration is to do the most natural, simple things-things we would never have imagined God was in, but as we do them we find Him there. The inspiration that comes to us in this way is an initiative against depression. But we must take the first step and do it in the inspiration of God. If, however, we do something simply to overcome our depression, we will only deepen it. But when the Spirit of God leads us instinctively to do something, the moment we do it the depression is gone. As soon as we arise and obey, we enter a higher plane of life.

I'll first say that I don't agree with every single specific jot and tittle in Oswald Chambers' devotional above. For example, the line that says, "He does not give us glorious visions." I do believe in visions. I believe in miracles. I believe in angels. I believe in all kinds of extraordinary manifestations of God in our lives!

However, the overall heart of the devotional lines up with my everyday experience of God - of the Holy Spirit - of Christ in me - which is most often experienced "in the ordinary." I was once so focused on wanting God to manifest Himself in extraordinary ways that I completely, or nearly completely, missed His presence in the entirety of my life!

I look around and I see so many Christians who on the outside appear as if everything is fine and dandy, but when you share a little bit of life with them and get into conversations with them, you find that they feel that something is greatly missing or lacking in their Christian lives, and they will only feel filled or complete if something "major" happens, such as a miraculous event or a highly visible or emotional experience or manifestation. In other words, it seems as if many are discontent or are longing for something more. But yet isn't the wholeness of God with us and manifested in us, even especially in the "ordinary."

Again, I love the deeply emotional, genuinely supernatural experiences I've had with God! But here's food for thought. If you want to truly interact with Jesus, consider verses such as the following (as one of many things to consider):

"Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.' Matt 25:37-40

Please understand, this is not some legalistic talk to try to get people to "do stuff for Jesus" and it's not a "step" to take to get out of any boredom or lack of fulfillment you may have in your Christian life!

What I'm saying is... the Kingdom of God is within us. We don't have to go looking for it. Perhaps, if we think we're missing out on something, instead of seeking for blatantly obvious supernatural experiences, we can ask our Father to show us Himself in the everyday things of life. All of creation is His. All of our life is His! A lot of this world is tainted with the effects of sin - but Jesus has overcome the world, and His overcoming of the world is not always experienced through miraculous events, but rather His overcoming of the world is shown in and through us as we abide and trust in Him and simply go about our daily lives, and as His love pours out of our lives toward others.


  1. Just having a question about the gracwalk forum. I can't login using my name "mackan" and I think my account never have been activated... Can you help?

  2. Hi Markus,

    I'll contact Dave, who's in charge of activating accounts. For security reasons, he has initiated a special process for signing up, that takes an extra step or two (see "Attention: Visitors & Friends...." on the forum home page for more info). Follow the directions there (if you haven't already done that), and in the meantime I'll also make sure Dave knows about this.

    Sorry for any inconvenience! :)

  3. Hey Joel...did the google earth for waterloo, iowa...what a pancake straight roads out your way.

  4. At some point in my life, I had been looking for those 'big' manifestations to build my faith. I too believe in miracles, signs and wonders and I think it is still happening all over the world. My problem was, I lost focus. I needed those 'spiritual boost' to get some spiritual goose bumps. I felt good, excited and all that. But it didn't last. I was 'joyful' in the midst of manifestations but was miserable at home :) Eventually, I found out these people who appears to be so happy and joyful are equally miserable outside the four walls of that meeting.
    They are always seeking something. Jesus said, seek and you shall find. If they have found it, why are they seeking it? Once we find, we stop seeking right?
    I was never contented, never fulfilled, never understood the all sufficiency of Christ. I was always on the look for some spiritual capsules week after week, just to survive. I don't think thats is Christian life. But I didn't have a clue. Did miracles build my faith? Yes, for a short time. But the understanding of the truth of God's grace, forgiveness, love and acceptance changed my life and gave me long lasting goose bumps. It gave me freedom. Generally, people who give so much attention to miracles, signs and wonders lack in the area of exposing the truth of God's practical love. Thats my experience.

    Great post, BTW!

  5. I have had similar experiences when it comes to being 'on fire for God'. In high school I grew up going to Aquire The Fire Youth Seminars and almost every theme or focus they had was being on fire for God, and not losing that fire. It was a great way to motivate kid's to come to Christ, but a week or so after the Seminars, it always seemed that the so called 'fire' was out once we went back to our usual schedules. It is exciting to have that fire and feel God's manifestations come upon you, however, it seems to be a little unrealistic to expect God to manifest himself to you every time you turned around! Don't get me wrong, I am in the same boat as Joel on this one, I do believe in the Spirit and all of that, but to expect something to happen all the time or feel on 'fire' is not how Father has worked in my life.

    Just my thougts!

    In Freedom, Nicole!

  6. WC,

    Yep, we're pretty much on the straight and narrow here in Iowa. ;) I notice there are many diagonal roads in your area, or to the north of you.

    If you want to get really bored, go to the west of us, into Nebraska. We drove through there on our way to Colorado one summer and it was pretty much a case of watching the grass grow!

  7. Bino,

    You hit the nail on the head with what I was getting at here. We get so focused on signs and wonders and "spiritual boosts" that we lose our focus on God in everything in life.

    I heard a quote today... of all places it was on a video I was watching of my old favorite program, The Pretender. The quote went something like this, "parenting isn't in the big things, it's in the little things."

    In a sense, our relationship with Jesus isn't about the big manifestations, but it's about everyday life, the everyday happenings, the "small" things.

    I'll just say that I've 'experienced' God in so many small, personable ways that I almost don't want to have a "big" visible or tangible experience, for fear that it will take my focus away from the God who meets me personally in my heart! Now... that's not truly a "fear." :) I'd love to have more of those "big" experiences. But in my heart I am content because I know God... I mean I really know Him... in the small, everyday things of life. I have no reason to look for "more." It's up to Him if He wants to show me more.

    I think part of the reason I wrote this is also because I see so many people looking outwardly, looking for "big" experiences and manifestations... and again, these are real and I don't want to take away from that... but I see people longing for these things with an unquenched thirst, almost as if these experiences define their relationship with God, and I just hope for them to know God in the minute areas of life... in all life... not just in big experiences, that as you say Bino, seem to fade away quickly.

  8. Markus,

    Dave wanted me to let you know that he has activated your account!

  9. Nicole,

    Being "on fire for God." LOL... That used to always be my thing too! I was so down on myself if I felt I wasn't "on fire." AND... I was very down on others if "I" was on fire but they weren't! Geesch!

    I remember a time, and this must've been around the time I was beginning to really learn about grace, that I visited an Assembly of God church here in town and I saw "Acquire the Fire" posters all over the place. I thought, "OH MY... what a way to get people feeling good about themselves temporarily... but really only setting them up for the fall."

    Another time was when I went to an "Adult Breakaway" retreat with some people from my church, back in my more legalistic days. It was a Friday night, Saturday morning and Saturday evening thing. We were all back on church on Sunday morning, and I was feeling SOOOOOO great (as were the others who went with us), and I couldn't understand why those around me weren't praising God and singing loudly and clapping and raising their hands like I was! I was "on fire!"

    But the very next Sunday morning I had "lost the fire." ;)

    Again, not to put down "big" experiences, but ever since I began growing in grace, I mean really growing in it, my life has been so much more "even keel," so to speak, rather than a roller coaster ride of major highs and major lows.

    My hope has changed. My hope is not in huge experiences, but in the personal God who relates to me through His natural creation, through other people and in so many other ways than miracles, signs and wonders.

  10. Joel and Bino! Good stuff!

    I really can relate to what you said about the 'spiritual boosts'. Its like coffee, when your tired or need a boost of energy, drink some jo' and it will sure get the job done, for a little while! You will eventually start getting tired again and the cycle then will start over. Its just how it is when you are in need of a spiritual boost or feeling the 'fire'. Its like what Joel shared in that quote, its in the little things that Father uses. I think those little things have a lot more meaning in my life than any huge manifestations. I personally have never expereinced anything really big in my spiritaul walk, however, Father has really used the everyday wispers of the Holy Spirit to move mountains in my heart! That I believe has done as much good as any 'big movement'of the Holy Spirit!

    In Freedom, Nicole!

  11. Thanks for your help! :)