An Ordinary Calling

I usually try to take note when certain themes come from several sources in my blogreader, or perhaps it is in my noticing that a common theme develops.

Last week the post, Once Was An Evangelist, by Andrew Hamilton caught my attention because I could relate to what he described.

As a senior pastor I had influence with those in the church sphere when it came to issues of spirituality. People would listen to me, sometimes defer to me and again I was able to influence some towards faith…Minus the position and status accorded to me as a pastor, I don’t seem to have the same influence…

I have a wonderful family, my life is pretty rosy in many ways, but I live with an ongoing sense of disappointment that I haven’t been able to accomplish what I had hoped and I am not sure if I ever will.

This was a difficult adjustment for me in leaving our former church. Suddenly, I was aware of how much of the respect that I was accustomed to was dependent on my title and position. The position had automatically created ministry opportunities for me. Apart from the position, people were not seeking out ministry, advice, or counsel from me.

If I wanted to be involved in ministry now, it would have to occur in the realm of ordinary life in whatever means I could find to give and serve. This kind of serving not only doesn’t have the prestige of church ministry, it also doesn’t have the stamp of legitimacy that comes with ministry in a church setting.

Some beautiful words from my good friend Pam:

There is power and beauty in being ordinary. I don’t need to discover a grand, spectacular plan for my life that will demonstrate the razzle-dazzle of Jesus. The loveliness of Christ is found in the everydayness of regular people like me.

For so long I have been waiting for something to happen, for my true spiritual calling to manifest so I can at long last be all that I am meant to be for Jesus. Years have rolled by as I’ve waited to mature and transform into the woman of faith I know I am not.

Echoed again in this post by Paul Viera in his post, Embracing the Ordinary:

I wanted my life to count, to be great, to make a difference. I never dreamed that I would find the meaning of life in the ordinary. Embracing the ordinary has changed my entire outlook on life. I think I will still do the things that are in my heart to do. However, my obsession to be “great” was sabotaging those dreams by causing me to miss the moment, to not live and enjoy the present.

These everyday encounters make life real and it’s through loving and enjoying the people around us that our life becomes great. Our lofty pursuits often become meaningless efforts at chasing the wind, while our kids stand on the side lines wishing that they had our affection and attention.

Is there destiny, fulfillment, and purpose for those who are called to ordinary life? I hope so.

Finally this poem to wrap it all up:

THE GREAT REVERSAL

Walking with the crowds
Carried along by the pressing forward.

Each one eager to get ahead
But each one starting the same:
Born as a baby, and from then on, struggling towards
meaning, power and influence.

Be someone
Be remembered
Make a big impression
Leave some indelible mark in your 3 score years and 10

From birth, a struggle to find eternity, to burst
through life with such dazzling intensity, that
everyone will remember forever.

But walking the other way, picking out a route
against the crowds, a solitary figure passes me…
passes all of us – all straining away innocence, to be someone,
And he passes us, a quiet chaos in the crowd.

Christ, eternal, omniscient, creator, beyond time,
source of wisdom and beyond petty claims of influence…
in very nature God, slips into reverse
and walks back past us –

away from Kingship, away from power,
away from influence, away from eternity,
away from wisdom… towards infancy.

Calmly stepping into the body of a tiny child.

And even as this baby grows,
figuring out how to control the body he himself designed,
he still walks the other way,
realizing that life cannot be found in the struggle for permanence,
but in giving it up.

This Great Reversal subverts me.

Tired of pressing forward,
I realize I need to turn,
for what I have been searching for
has just walked past me the other way.

Kester Brewin – Signs of Emergence
(ht JR Woodward)

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12 thoughts on “An Ordinary Calling

  1. Fantastic poem! And not a bad post either. :) I relate to this too…

    The post makes me ponder about all the ‘ordinary’ people who are ‘great’ in heaven, known by heaven while unknown on earth. That’s the kind of greatness worth seeking, I think…

  2. It is very interesting that you postd this. I am reading some material that is definitely tied to this theme. The concept is goiing “deeper” in relationships and actually being place-sharers and how that looks in “your ordinary life”

    If we could all be in place-sharing work with each other; what a world that we would live in. I am still flushing it all out.

  3. Hey Grace, I haven’t popped in for a while but the title of your post grabbed me on my google reader. And hear ya are posting a nice summary of what’s been brewing inside my pretty little head lately.

    I have been saying that a revolutionary of the ordinary is underfoot. I think people, not just churched Christ following people, but people in general, are worn out by Bigger is Better. The next new hero, I predict, will be Everyday Joes and Janes.

  4. I wonder how many followers of Jesus struggle with thinking they need to do some great thing for God instead of live their life in such a way that it exudes the Kingdom to all around. Well, I confess that has been me.

    What is truly interesting to me is that most of the “big” things we might do that supposedly would affect large numbers of people are quite ineffective in reality.

    Touching a few lives at a time in ways that deeply affect them, and us, is far more transforming. The healing of people comes only through relationship which can only flourish with a few people at a time. As with almost everything concerning Father this too is humanly counterintuitive and paradoxical.

    Thanks again, for good thoughts….and poem.

  5. Hi Grace,

    This is not too far from my story although I never got to the hights of “Ministry!” I has several “roles” within the church, but I think we “illussion” ourselves with that. Status is a temptation and so many fall for it. A lot of Christians give preference to “the minister” even though they will regularly enjoy “roast preacher” for Sunday lunch!

    We are drawn to thinking that if we want to be someone and do something then we need to be “in ministry.” How readily and easily people feel “called!”

    When I came out from the institution I looked at the would and noticed how people succeed. The business men, self made millionaires and celebreties, they all do it all without God’s help. As soon as we stick a cross on the place of business we assume that everything that happens is God’s doing.

    Surely “real ministry” is from the ground up, it is recognised not for how it entertains the congregation but how it impacts lives.

    I am not saying there are not real ministers within the institutions, but institutions need more ministers than it genuinely has.

    It’s attitude to them is they either serve the structure or they are against the structure.

    I am happy to be “dis” illussioned! I am currently doing what I have been complaining that no one else has enabled me to do. We meet as a church as a family, I give a bible study once a week, stirring up the gift.

    This has only just started but already two people who are outside of the church want to hear the studies!

    Richard

  6. sarah,
    My husband always compares it to the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life!” There are many unknown lives that make a difference to those around them.

    jeff,
    Great point. I think the real stuff of the kingdom is found in relationships.

    Pam,
    I like the idea of everyday heroes.

    kimberly,
    You are welcome.

    traveller,
    It really is counterintuitive. I believe my battle comes with feeling that I am failing to do what matters than from aspirations of greatness. The answer either way lies in realizing that obedience in the small things is what matters.

    richard,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. They were encouraging to me. I hope that you are blessed in your serving and ministry.

  7. Grace,

    Your comment about feeling that you fail to do what matters instead of aspiring to greatness is interesting. Reflecting on that idea it occurs to me that either way our “christian” culture reinforces the idea that there is something more than the relational journey with God and each other. This has been so very hard for me as well. Even now, I know it to be true but I at times I struggle with the reality of it. It is almost as if the old way is an addiction and it takes years of withdrawal with all the attendant symptoms. We need Father’s wisdom and grace on this journey, yes his very presence!

  8. Reflecting on that idea it occurs to me that either way our “christian” culture reinforces the idea that there is something more than the relational journey with God and each other. This has been so very hard for me as well. Even now, I know it to be true but I at times I struggle with the reality of it. It is almost as if the old way is an addiction and it takes years of withdrawal with all the attendant symptoms.

    well said traveller. i may have to quote you.

  9. traveller and pam,
    First, thanks for straightening out my twisted grammar. :)
    I agree with Pam that was very well said.

    “Something more than the relational journey with God and each other.”

    Perhaps part of the struggle is in not knowing exactly how the relational journey with each other should be expressed.

  10. Pam, you are welcome to use my words without atttribution at any time.

    Grace, I think you are correct, we do not know how the relational journey with each other should be expressed. It also seems that even when we do, somewhere along the way our fallen nature raises its ugly head and we find ourselves with broken relationships.

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