Ever since I can remember, I had ‘adventure phobia’. I wanted to be as ordinary as I could be. I didn’t want any excitement in my life, and having a secondary-character kind of life was my life goal. Long story short, when I unexpectedly went to college in Korea, God met me relationally, and I realized that if I was going to follow Jesus, I had to let go of my Ordinary Life Idol. I reluctantly let go of it, and the last eight years have been quite the dramatic first-character kind of adventure (like a soap opera, it includes dramatic airport meetings, coincidences that are too great and numerous to believe, divorced and remarried parents, the list goes on).
Now that I find myself back in Argentina, with no clear plans or leads from God, I am struggling with being here because everything is so ordinary. So far, God led me in a “wow, that’s really cool” way, and I came to expect this same pattern again: more adventure! So when that didn’t happen and is still not happening, I thought I must have misheard or done something wrong. Now, after seven months in Argentina, I am finally getting the hang of what this ‘next adventure’ is about. This time, it seems as though God wants to whisper something to me. And I hope I have ears to listen.
Since letting go of the Ordinary Life Idol, I subconsciously built an I-Need-to-be-Extraordinary Idol. It meant I wanted to be extraordinary not in terms of money or fame, but in Kingdom of God stuff. And somehow, I started defining “Kingdom of God stuff” as the visible and famous Christians’ deeds.
I thought my calling had to be as significant as the Bible’s “main” characters or as the current Christian celebrities: Joseph, David, Paul, Katie Davis, Francis Chan, etc. I am literal to a fault, which means that if someone tells me “Paul was a great apostle. Be like Paul”, I literally start thinking that in order for me to be of any use in the Kingdom of God, I need to have some dramatic sort of suffering like Paul did and be as theologically eloquent as he was, and make some kind of mark that can be recorded in a modern-day Christian book. When I read about Francis Chan talking to ex-convicts, who go on to become pastors themselves, I ache terribly to do such awesome things as he does. So I compare their deeds and results to mine. Thus, I feel like I’m not doing something clearly significant or meaningful for Him as they are doing, and that I need to ‘push myself’ more to be like them.
Knowing these dramatic stories, I am dissatisfied as I see myself in a hiatus year where my health is slowly recovering, and I don’t do much except for hanging out with my family. I want to get past the little annoyances that happen every day as I live with them; I want to be useful and bright in something that is ‘tangibly’ Kingdom of God centered (for example, feeding and evangelizing the poor, the orphans, and the widows).
Then one day it hit me: my calling as a Christian could be to be as “insignificant” as the servant who accompanied Saul to look for his lost donkeys, or as the widow that gave Elijah room and board along with some food, or the widow that Jesus saw giving all her money as an offering unto the Lord.
I realized that the disconnection between what God has called me to do and the focus I am giving to the outer appearance of things is great. While it is true that people like David and Francis Chan are people of God, just because my track record as a Christian isn’t newspaper material, it doesn’t make me more or less of a Christian. Now, I don’t want this to be an excuse for me to never do anything bold for God. The widow who gave food to Elijah was bold because that was all the food she had left! Like her, I hope and pray I will be ready to do that bold thing God calls me to do at whichever season in my life!
But that’s the point: it is God who decides what, when, and where. I don’t get to choose and plan out the grandiose thing I will do for God. God determines how I will serve Him; what my calling is. And that something can be as great as defeating a giant with a stone or as small as giving bread to a hungry prophet.
I might not do something or be someone grandiose in this life, and my Christian walk is not meant to focus on that. Perhaps I will directly, with my own mouth, preach the gospel and have many people convert thanks to my direct words. But perhaps I might never see one person convert because of my speech. Whether people convert or not is not up to me, but to God. It is my duty to be faithful and proclaim the gospel wherever I am, but it is not in my power to convert them.
The real glory, and the real battle is in the unseen. How come Saul’s servant knew so much about how to find Samuel and who he was? How come the widow had enough faith to not reject Elijah, though she had barely any food left and he was wanted dead by the queen of Israel? And how did the widow Jesus mentioned have enough love and faith to give up her entire possession as an offering unto God? I am sure these nameless, background Bible characters knew God. And I’m sure they led extremely ordinary lives. And they were willing and prepared to do the small yet big actions of faith required of them at the right time.
Wherever I am put by God, my calling is to be holy (set apart), and to love sincerely as I serve others. I can happily be all of this in whatever circumstance God allows as long as He’s with me. And funnily enough, as I am learning to live by these principles, I see the Holy Spirit giving me boldness to keep quiet at times, to be patient and kind, and to love in a way that I know it is not from me but from God. I am learning to live an Ordinarily Extraordinary life, and it is quite the adventure.