The idea behind this post was spurred from an article by Michael Horton over at the White Horse Inn titled Ordinary: The New Radical? It’s an interesting post talking about our problem of always looking for the next Big Thing and how that has permeated into the church. Something that we most often see in the church programs we create and more recently in the way we ‘do’ worship. I really liked how Michael framed the following paragraph:
My target is… … …the marginalization of the ordinary as the richest site of both God’s activity and ours. Our problem isn’t that we are too active. Rather, it is that we have been prone to successive sprints instead of the long-distance run. There’s nothing wrong with energy. The danger is that we’re burning out ourselves—and each other—on restless anxieties and unrealistic expectations. It’s an impatience with the familiar, sometimes slow, and mostly imperceptible aspects of life. – Michael Horton
While Michael’s article was looking at this from the perspective of church I kept thinking about how it is the most ordinary and unremarkable things in my life that are at the same time the most memorable. Unfortunately this epiphany only comes while having to admit to myself that I have always been looking for the next Big Thing and when it didn’t come along I’d try to create it. I can blame a number of things that I’ve done in pursuit of creating the next big thing. In my younger days it was canoeing, backpacking, cycling, rock-climbing and winter camping. As an adult it was the grass being greener and more exciting at another occupation. The culmination was my mid life crisis purchase of Big Red which of course ended in an accident in 2011. But none of those, though they certainly were exciting are the things that have created my greatest character growth.
In what is seen as the ordinary, the unexciting, the plain and slowly progressing ,the greatest most enduring changes have taken place. Almost nothing of any long term value is learned in a day and that certainly holds true when it comes to personal change, whether that be physical, mental or spiritual.
It’s not the next big thing that leaves the most indelible impression on us, but the ordinary steadfast character and guidance of the people in our lives. And when I view the people who have made the greatest changes in my life it isn’t the ones who were the flashiest. While the flashy people were fun and exciting they weren’t the ones that helped me develop my character or at least not the character that I desired. When I was a young Christian, I guess the role models that I looked too would be deemed fairly plain folk living really plain lives and doing church in a really plain way. No glitz or flair, but what they outwardly may have lacked in panache they more than made up for with a spiritual character and zeal that I saw as both desirous and daunting. Were they ordinary? Perhaps by the worlds standards but from a young Christian’s perspective they’ve always been larger than life.
So to the senior saints at Presbyterian Church of the Atonement thank you for being the fire eating, cliff jumping, dare devils of faith that I’ve aspired to be for the better part of my adult life.461 Total Views