God of the Ordinary


Farm Have you ever heard God audibly speak to you?

Me neither.

Isn't it odd that when we look at the Bible that it is full of all incredible examples of God working in extraordinary ways, yet when we look at our own life the only thing extraordinary is how average our life is? God shows up in dreams or in bushes, raises people from the dead, gives people sight, and walks on water. When God shows up throughout the Bible he does not lack any flair in how He reveals his power and authority. At one moment he is calming a storm and at another moment he is making sure a wedding has enough wine.

But how is God at work today?

God is no doubt moving and active in our world today, but I've never heard him audibly speak to me. Can God work in the same ways he worked throughout scripture - raising the dead, healing people's sights, speaking through dreams? Absolutely! God can work in whatever way he wants to. God can and does work in all kinds of extraordinary ways. But at the same time God works in some incredibly ordinary ways. When we get caught up in looking for the unusual ways that God might be at work, we often miss the simple, ordinary ways that God is doing the miraculous in our midst.

There's an awesome story in Genesis 28 where Jacob goes to sleep and has a dream. Jacob is traveling and when it gets dark he needs to sleep so he makes his bed by laying a stone down as a pillow. While he is sleeping he dreams of angels going up and down a ladder and God speaking to him from the top of the ladder. When Jacob wakes up he makes an interesting statement:

"Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it." - Genesis 28:16

Jacob did not find himself in a moment of worship because God finally showed up. No, Jacob found himself realizing that God was always in this place, and he had no idea until now. In the very ordinary place where he happened to go to sleep for the night, God was present.

What did you eat for lunch last?

Let's just assume for a second that the meal you ate was a delicious grilled cheese sandwich. When the Israelites were hungry, God gave them manna - which is miraculous - they had no food and it showed up. When you got hungry, you went to your fridge or your cupboard, picked out some ingredients, buttered your bread, spent some time at the oven and made yourself a grilled cheese. Is that miraculous?

When you made your grilled cheese, you had to use a few things. Bread, cheese, butter, your oven, and maybe a skillet. Where did those things come from? I'd assume you probably got some of those things at a grocery store? In order to get your bread, your cheese, and your butter you had to rely on the fact that somebody near you owned a grocery store. And hopefully at their grocery store they sold the things you need. And not only that they would carry the items that you needed, but that they would have staff that could put items on the shelves, keep the building clean, and have somebody that could work the register.

But in order for this all to happen the grocery store is reliant on a few other things. The owner is reliant on whatever allowed him the means to open a grocery store. He had to have the capital to own a grocery store. The grocery store does make their own products, they had to rely on somebody else. They had to rely on farmers who raised cows and provided milk which could be made into cheese or butter. They had to rely on somebody to make the bread. In order to transport the bread, the cheese, and the butter to the grocery store once it was made they had to rely on a truck. And in order for the truck to travel safely, they not only had to rely on a well-made vehicle, but they had to rely on the local government that there would be roads that they could drive on and that there would be police offers enforcing laws in order to make sure that it was safe to drive where they needed to drive.

Manna vs. a Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I'm simplifying a bit, but I think you get the point. In order for you to eat a grilled cheese sandwich, an incredible amount of things need to all happen or else you cannot eat your sandwich. God certainly did the miraculous when manna showed up out of nowhere for the Israelites. But God also does the miraculous by providing you with the food you eat too. God just chooses to do the miraculous for you in a very ordinary way. God does this miracle by uses stock boys, farmers, grocers, police officers, car manufacturers, and more.

Maybe it's not that God isn't doing miracles or speaking to us like he did so long ago. But maybe he's just doing it in ordinary ways. He speaks through ordinary words in a book written thousands of years ago. He shows up in ordinary bread and ordinary wine when we participate in communion. He provides our protection through ordinary people working in the government. He speaks to and takes care of children through their parents. He works through each and every one of us through our very ordinary vocations.

Look around you. Has God been in this place and you just weren't aware of it?

What are some of the ordinary ways that you see God at work in your life?

 

Photo Credit: Library of Congress

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