How to Experience the Extraordinary in the Ordinary

We are honored to have a special guest post by Rachel Larkin. Rachel lives in New Zealand with her husband and their three young adult sons. She is the author of Simple Prayer: The Guide for Ordinary People Seeking the Extraordinary. She writes about growing in faith and developing your potential on her website at http://rachellarkin.com/. She is also a practising Chartered Accountant, home schooler for fourteen years and craves chocolate constantly. 

I highly recommend Rachel’s free eBook, available here: The Untold Story: 7 Steps to Seeing God in the Midst of your Real Messy Life. I’m sure you’ll be blessed by it and enjoy it as much as we did. (BTW, these are not affiliate links. We get no commission or anything if you click them or buy from Rachel; it’s just an honest recommendation.)

 

God often takes what is ordinary in life and sprinkles it with extraordinary divine moments.

Look at Jesus’ first miracle while He was on this earth. He took ordinary water at a wedding of a family friend and changed it into the best wine that the guests have tasted. He showed up powerfully in the middle of everyday life!

Jesus was involved in many occasions of adding the extraordinary to the ordinary. The crowd was hungry as they had been following and listening to him all day. The call went out for supplies, and an ordinary boy gave up his ordinary fish sandwiches to Jesus. A prayer of thanks was said over the food. Something divine then took place. Multiplication happened. An ordinary lunch turned into an extraordinary feast for over five thousand people. This kind of miracle wasn’t a one-time event either.

I remember a time when we had a young family and very little spare money. I prayed that God would stretch the very little that we had. I ended up calling our car the Elijah car because of an unexplainable situation when the gauge was signaling empty. I went to the gas station to fill the car. But to my surprise the car filled quickly and the cost was only a quarter of what I would normally pay for a full tank! It struck me right there on the pavement of the gas station that something divine had taken place. There didn’t seem to be any other way of explaining what had just happened. God turned up in my ordinary life!

My life is filled with accounting work, home-schooling, keeping a home, writing, loving my husband and raising our children — all ordinary work. But when I pray over my ordinary work God starts to work in the background. I notice moments that have a dash of the divine in them.

  • A conversation with one of my young adult sons turns into something deeper and hearts are affected.
  • A ‘chance’ meeting with a stranger becomes a moment of extra encouragement for my soul.
  • A morning walk generates ideas that can only originate with God.
  • The simple act of driving to work is transformed into a sacred journey of communicating with my Heavenly Father.

Ordinary people with ordinary abilities, possessions and tasks can see the fingerprints of God touch their ordinariness and create divine moments.

Take Action

Change your mind about your ordinariness. Decide to believe that God can use whoever you are and whatever you have. Spend time in discussion with God. Use the ordinary moments of your day to communicate with the Father. Have a mindful attitude about the events and people that come across your path. Look for God in those places. Seek His glory, it’s there.

Have you discovered God in the ordinariness? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Dependence vs Responsibility

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So much truth in the Word of God consists of two opposite truths that hold each other in tension. They may even appear to conflict at first, but they really don’t conflict with each other – they complete each other. One brings balance to the other and vice versa. We’re going to talk about one of these today.

There’s a degree to which we’re supposed to depend on God and a degree to which we’re supposed to be responsible for ourselves. Two truths held in tension.

When we depend on God for our well being – for being loved and for our world working – we live in a blessed Relaxed Security. We can relax knowing that, whatever crazy circumstances life throws at us, whatever suffering we must endure, God is working in everything for our good (Romans 8:28). We have inner peace through the storms of life. We live fearlessly through fearful circumstances (Psalm 23:4).

This gives us a life of Autonomous Freedom. We are free to give, free to serve others, free to hold the things of this world loosely. We, in freedom not in fear, take responsibility for our actions and their consequences. In freedom we act proactively, meeting our own needs where possible, and it feels good. A job well done, a healthy sense of accomplishment.

This is the outcome when we rightly depend on God for his part and take rightful responsibility for our part. The hallmark of this godly balance is that belief “I’m OK because I’m loved by my God. He makes my world work in spite of my circumstances.” And because “I’m OK”, we live in the glorious freedom of not fearing failure, of taking the risk of daring to be all that God has created and called us to be.

On the other hand, when we mix these up, things don’t work out so well. Often we get it backwards – even Christians. Out of our wounding, we try to take responsibility for God’s part while blaming him for the logical consequences of failures in our part.

When we take responsibility for being loved and for making our world work, we live in Fearful Idolatry. We take responsibility for our own well being and security, so we have none. The hallmark of this ungodly imbalance is, “I’m OK if _____.” Fill in the blank. This is where addictions and co-dependencies come from.

Then, instead of glorious autonomous freedom, we live in Depraved Defiance. We blame God for the negative consequences of our unhealthy dependencies. The more we try to control our world, the less control we have, like sand slipping through our clenched fist. And, living in fear of failure, we don’t dare take a risk on our God-given dreams. Instead, paralyzed by a false sense of entitlement, we just drift along expecting happiness to drop in our lap, and blaming God when it doesn’t.

The way out of fearful idolatry and depraved defiance is through honest confession and repentance. Then giving the best part of our day over to intimacy with Jesus (in prayer, worship, and reading our Bible – just hanging out with God for bit each day without an agenda) is the path to relaxed security and autonomous freedom.

Kudos to Dr William Clark from The Lay Counselor Institute for these excellent concepts.

So how about you? Are you living in the autonomous freedom of relaxed security, in the depraved defiance that comes from fearful idolatry, or, like us, on a journey from one to the other? Are you responsible for being loved? Who makes your world work? Tell us your story in the comments or shoot us an email with the Contact Us link above. We’d love to hear from you. And please, if you think this would benefit someone else, share it on Facebook, Twitter or your favorite social media (share buttons for just about everything below).

So what do you think about all this?

Getting to Point B

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Sometimes we approach our healing as a destination rather than as a process. “If I can only get from Point A to Point B, my life’ll be fixed!” Point B might be a valid goal:

  • “Fix my marriage.”
  • “Stop my addiction.”
  • “Not be depressed anymore.”
  • “Control my anger.”
  • “Have a good relationship with my spouse, child, parent, sibling, boss, etc.”

Because we think our healing is in the destination, we come at it with a wrong perspective:

The False Belief: “I have to get to Point B.” Maybe, maybe not. Being at Point A may not be the real problem, and Point B may not be the real solution. Maybe there’s something deeper going on.

The False Myth: “There is a path to Point B.” The truth is, Point B may be unattainable, especially if it involves relationships with others. Healthy relationships depend on the other person as much as they depend on you, and they might not be willing to go there. What do you do then?

The Unyielding Demand: “You, O Pastor/Counselor/Friend/Whatever, are going to get me to Point B.” Already setting up the blame shift if it doesn’t work…

The False Formula: “I know I have a part to play.” When someone says that, they really mean, “If I do the steps, I’ll get to Point B.” Maybe, maybe not; life’s just not that simple.

The Big Denial: “I can get to Point B without looking at my heart, or my story, or my sin.” Good luck with that.

The Secret Fear: “What if it doesn’t work?” Or what if Point B’s not all it’s cracked up to be? What if I get there and I’m still miserable?

The reality is, God’s much more interested in the process than he is in the destination. The ends do not justify the means.

Romans 5:3-5 says, “We glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

It’s the character and the hope that God is after. Another word for hope is faith. It’s our faith in God, that he’s enough for us even while we’re stuck at Point A, that he’s trying to build in us through this process.

Here’s the right perspective to approach healing (and life) with:

The Truth: “There may not be a path to Point B.” But I’m trusting God anyway.

The Hope: “I will be different whether my circumstances are or not.” And it’s who I am, and who God is, that makes the difference of whether I can thrive in these circumstances or not.

The Right Question: “What are you up to, God?” What does God want to do in me through these circumstances?

If we approach our life with the right perspective, we will suddenly realize God has taken us to Point C!

Kudos to Dr William Clark from The Lay Counselor Institute for this excellent material.

Does this strike a chord with you? Tell us in the comments or shoot us an email with the Contact Us link above. And if you think this would be valuable to someone else, please share it on Facebook or your favorite social media (share buttons below). We look forward to hearing from you!

The Hobbit

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I love the hobbit Bilbo Baggins. Do you know the story of how Gandolf the wizard crashed into his life and took him on an adventure? Good old Bilbo liked the comfort of his hobbit hole and did not want to leave his familiar Shire. He said that he had always been “respectable.” I just love him! I totally understand the comfort of the familiar and boring…. Yes, boring!

You know, when the Lord Jesus crashes into our lives and takes us on an adventure it’s not predictable or boring. The Christian life is anything but boring. Graham Cooke says that the church is boringly predictable. We’ve got it backwards! Our safety should be in the predictability of the character of a loving God who is good. All the time. Our security should be in the character of a God who never changes.

Storms will hit our lives. We cannot depend on people or circumstances. The world we live in holds so much uncertainty. If we focus on the bad things in the news we could all go crazy.

When the world around us is crazy, when our lives are spinning out of control, as humans we yearn for stability. But we put our trust in things that are not stable. In fact, they could be damaging or at least not healthy.

We can put our trust in finances or our checkbook. But the Bible tells us that riches are fleeting. (I am not saying that we shouldn’t work or use wisdom in our finances).

We can put our trust in that wonderful man or woman God has (or maybe hasn’t) brought into our lives. But the problem is, no one person or one thing can ever be what God is meant to be. He is the one we trust in when all else fails around us. He is the one who has promised to never leave us or forsake us. He is the one with the wisdom to figure out all the mess around us.

Will you trust this God who sent his son Jesus who loves you so much? Will you trust him with your life and your future? Will you trust him with your dreams? Will you trust him with your pain?

This loving God knew you in your mother’s womb. He knew all your days before you were born. He can carry you through the darkest days. He knows the good and the bad and he desires healing for you. He has the blueprint for your life.

Lets go on the adventure God has for us and trust him.

What are your thoughts? I would love to hear from you.