ambition gospel living

Hey Kids! Let's be Ordinary!

9:21 AMHeather

"Do you think you can be okay with living a life that's ordinary?"

He asked it quietly, yet firmly and with great conviction. He did not turn his gaze away as he asked the pointed question.

There it was. The heart of the matter, exposed with the summation of a challenge that I knew was exactly what I not only needed to hear, but I needed to heed.

Could I?

Could I dare to be content in striving for a life that is just ordinary?

But, as my pastor began quoting a Scripture, my resolve became set.

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 

I laughed, as I looked toward my husband. I'm sure this was not the expected response. I then explained to our pastor that this exact verse had been written out by me months previously and was posted in my bedroom, where I've passed it and read it dozens of times a day. For months, I have been drawn over and again to this verse.

There it was. A call for action, clearly revealed to me.

The call to live a life that's ordinary. To be okay never being known or going viral or having a platform or building an audience or achieving a million followers. To be okay living a life that does not garner the attention of the media or the news or reality show producers or even those around me. 

To be okay living a life of anonymity in a world that is driven by a desire to make a name for yourself.

This is part of the call of the gospel.
To not just be okay with being ordinary, but to actually "make it my ambition to lead a quiet life." To set the high goal of contentedly living a life that demands no one's attention and seeks no person's approval. 

In fact, a life that strives to live with no demands at all. But rather, a life surrendered.

A life that is laser focused.

Just as Jesus' ministry on earth was fixed without compromise on doing the Father's will.

May I seek to live a life set on properly and rightly treasuring a great Savior whose glory overwhelms and silences all selfish ambition. 

A life marked by a path -- a narrow road -- toward a journey to obscurity. And not an obscurity accompanied with a martyr mentality. But an obscurity that understands and appreciates the depths and wonder and miracle of grace and is greatly motivated by that. 

This is an obscurity that is beckoning me. It's calling me to gladly and earnestly empty all I can of myself everyday. Treasuring no thing, no fame, no status, no relationship, no achievement more than I treasure Jesus. 

This is the hard but necessary call of my Great Savior who asks me to quit coddling and mourning over idols that I've been asked to smash. So that I might joyfully run to empty every space in my life, in my heart, in my soul, in my mind -- to make more room for the One who emptied himself for me.

Because he alone is extraordinary.

He alone is worthy of accolades and praise and fame and followers. 

He alone is worth notice and attention and adoration.

He alone holds that space that we tend to crowd with our own desire to be considered great or talented or noteworthy.

And when we ignore the Biblical command to draw all men to look to him rather than to us, the result is that we become needy. Our personal and selfish ambitions create voids and needs deep within us that we frantically seek to fill.

Driven by discontent, we scramble to have our needs met by those around us, carrying a hole around in our hearts. Making people big in our lives.

Which makes God small.*

And this denies the complete fulfillment and satisfaction that our hearts crave but can only find in the One who made us. For eternity was set in our hearts.

And no following or fame or achievement or accolades can replace that sacred space. We search in vain, denying the full joy and power and sufficiency of the Great I Am.

So, listen up, kids. 

Let's be ordinary.

Let's use our fleeting moments on earth in the best way we can. To willingly offer them in quiet and obscure obedience and surrender. 

Instead of being needy, let's be need-meeters. Being filled to overflowing through the only One who can actually meet all needs. 

Let's direct our thoughts to leaving others with an impression of the greatness of God rather than "greatness" of ourselves. 

Let's live with an ordinary and quiet faithfulness that leaves an accurate impression on others of the only One worthy of any glory or praise. 

Let's stop considering, "What do others think of me?" And in every interaction and action, may our hearts gladly seek to lead people to think most rightly of our God.

Extraordinary? God alone is extraordinary. As is his mercy toward us and his grace. It's a grace that dares to include our broken and sinful selves in his Kingdom work done on earth, here in the every day of our lives.

As the above verse states, let's become ambitious about living quiet lives, minding our own business, working with our hands. Being need-meeters rather than being needy. Depending on no one to tell us how great they think we are.

Because we know the only One deserving that title. 

And knowing him personally leaves us humbled and grateful to the point that we throw all that we are to do the mundane and tedious and unseen work of caring for others, seeing needs and meeting them, praying earnestly and quietly, and sharing the love and grace of God at every chance we can. 

In the grocery store line, as we drive the congested highways, in the kitchen or laundry room, and as we answer the phone at work.

Quietly living ordinary and grace-driven lives behind the scenes here on earth. Ever aware and in awe of the promise to live forever in his extraordinary presence in the Kingdom to come. And ever mindful of our motivation to look him in the eye, face-to-face, and be able to declare -- 

"I finished empty."

*Author's Note-- I highly recommend these two books that have challenged me in the endeavor to  live an ordinary life that steals none of God's glory:
              When People are Big & God is Small by Ed Welch
               Glory Hunger by J.R. Vassar

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