The Ordinary Christian Life in Ordinary Time
This morning, I settled into my big chair with a cup of coffee and began to pour myself into a good book. It was a book about Christian womanhood I’ve been working through for the last few weeks. My dog, Marley, snuggled at my feet and I heard the sound of rain hitting hard again the window, a rarity in Hawaii.
While it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, the rain was a perfect cap on what was shaping up to be a great morning. After I finished my chapter, I was going to spend the morning listening to the clink of the keys on my laptop while I wrote.
That’s when my phone lit up with a text from a friend, asking if I was awake yet and, if so, could I help her.
She had the audacity to interrupt me smack dab in the middle of a chapter on how a Christian woman was to be devoted to, even clothed by, good works. And I had the audacity to pause, and feel put out by helping a friend.
We have reached the liturgical season of Ordinary Time.
Ordinary Time has less to do with the time being ordinary and more to do with the time being ordinal, or counted. This is a season without the big moments of the birth, death, and resection of the Lord, but it’s season that still has profound meaning for the Christian faith.
There are ups and downs in the Christian life. Days when we are on the top of the mountain, where we feel God’s very breath on our life, and days when the valley seems to stretch on forever. But despite these ups and downs, most of our Christian life is lived somewhere in the ordinary, mundane, day after day.
My days are spent folding laundry, washing dishes, and shopping for toilet paper. I like to think my life is a crescendoing arch, all flowing together like a romantic comedy. In reality, it is much more like a marathon. We are not remembered by how we respond in the big moments but by how we show up for each and every mundane, un-noteworthy bit of life, when we throw our coffee in a travel mug, get in the car, and pick up the friend.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. -Hebrews 12:1-2
These ordinary, counted days matter deeply. These are the days when time is freer, when we can devote ourselves to pouring our lives out in worship through good works. This season is a wonderful time to look to those who have run the race well before us and remember God’s faithfulness.
We are running a marathon, friends. And we need to remember what matters in this life.
We are surrounded by the witness of those who have endured the trials of this life and have run the race well. This time of year, I love reading through the Hebrews 11 Hall of Faith and reading the 2,000 years of history we have of those who have looked to the example of Christ and lived lives of remarkable devotion to His Church.
As we read through these stories, we have the benefit of standing outside their timeline and seeing the full picture. We see how after years and years of trust and faithfulness in ordinary days, God fulfilled His promise to Abraham and Sarah and blessed them with a son. They did not. They lived just like we do, in days filled with ordinary tasks, trying our hearts, testing out faith. But they held to their faith. And God was faithful.
In the day to day struggle, our endurance comes from looking to the example Jesus has set and remembering that He is the one perfecting our faith. Our days are long but His faithfulness is sufficient. In the midst of the dishes and the laundry and the misunderstandings, He is working out our sanctification. He has redeemed our lives and infused them with abundant meaning and purpose.
So let us redeem the time and live faithfully in these ordinary days, doing the good works He has prepared.