There is no such thing as ordinary.
The daily grind, whatever it is for each of us, becomes “ordinary,” but it is anything but. In reality, what we consider “ordinary” is supernatural, filled with the common grace of God.
I remember an idea from a Tim Keller sermon (he’s been a favorite of late): Does someone in your life love you? Is there someone to hold your hand? Does someone ask you how your day is going and sometimes even listen when it’s not going so well?
Grace—it’s all grace. You didn’t do anything to deserve any of that, and without Grace, you wouldn’t experience any of it.
I remember a comment I heard a family counselor make on a radio show. “We humans are not hard-wired for real relationship. Deep down, if we are truthful, we have a “what’s in it for me?” expectation about every single relationship we are in—even the parent-to-child relationship. The only reason I can see for any human relationship retaining even a trace of goodness is completely the grace of God.”
Thinking of these two comments, I try to imagine “ordinary” with all common grace removed. The first images that pop up are from Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic book The Road, in which lawlessness prevails; the strong prey upon any weaker than they, with no pity; and no “human decency” remains. The one relationship readers would call “normal”—that of a father and son who care for each other—is in stark contrast to everyone else. For the sake of food and shelter, people will do anything, even kill and eat their own children.
For those who have not read The Road, just imagine “ordinary” without common grace as the worst moments of the Holocaust or the Rwandan genocide, as the inside of a brothel; as the continual torture inflicted upon prisoners of war.
In this kind of “ordinary,” there is no such thing as a mother’s and father’s natural love for children, no sense of morality or “right,” no conscience at all. There is no such thing as respect and concern for one’s fellow man.
This is hard to fathom in my “ordinary” world. Common grace is so, well, common. But if God withdrew His active goodness–which is present in this world without us giving Him a single reason to give it—the result would be hellish, brutal.
This should transform my idea of “ordinary”—which I far too often think of as a burden. It should enable me to see my ordinary—with its daily grind and up-and-down relationships and disappointments and boredom and longing for “something more”—as truly a miracle.
When I think of my family and friends as miraculous gifts, then all the daily grind related to relationship with them can be transformed as well: meal prep, grocery shopping, carpooling, laundry, maybe even cleaning (though I’m not sure if that one fits in my “ordinary” category—extraordinary perhaps?).
We humans often want a change IN our ordinary. We often covet the “ordinary” of other people. “If only…” we think. But, in truth, a change in mindset, not a change in circumstances, is what transforms our ordinary.
And that, God reminds us, is a job the He is eager to do for and with us.