The Necessity of the Ordinary
I grew up visiting my grandparents every summer, and complained I had nothing to do. To ward off boredom, my cousins and I wandered down to the creek to spend the afternoon. We sat on the banks of the cool rushing waters throwing pebbles in the creek. I enjoyed seeing who could produce the biggest ripples by throwing their rock or seeing whose rock would skip the most times across the water. But the most captivating effects were the ripples bellying away from the center place where the rock landed.
Ebbs and flows of waves across the pond are similar to our life’s journeys. One event is the beginning of future events spreading throughout the course of our lives.
We’ve all heard the saying “Don’t despise small beginnings.” This saying rings true about all of us. When we are at the beginning of something, we long to see the ending because beginnings rarely seem significant. All journeys begin with small steps. Small steps grow into bigger steps. And faithful perseverance in the day to day, ordinary, mediocre life is the necessity for a purposeful future.
Small steps seem boring and mundane, however, the ordinary is necessary for extraordinary results to manifest.
Developing the Skills
In the book of first Samuel, David faithfully watches over his family’s sheep. God guides David to shepherd his sheep in the pasture. He is alone. No one sees. His daily tasks of climbing the rolling hills and guiding his sheep day after day could be looked upon as boring. Yet, in this place, David begins to know his sheep. He knows their wandering places, their habits, and their stubborn ways. He is especially adept in knowing the sheep’s prey. David develops the humility to shepherd. At the same time, he develops the character of a warrior. While facing the challenge of protecting his flock, he kills a bear and a lion (1 Samuel 17:34-36). Consequently, his proficiency to use the sling providentially leads him to disable his enemies. His skill grows into a weapon to protect his sheep. David’s greatness, birthed out of the normal routine of his early years tending sheep and perfecting slingshot skills, ultimately lead him to the King’s palace.
One small beginning has an enormous impact for either good or bad. Through constant discipline, we develop the competence and the know-how to employ God-given abilities. The groundwork is being laid even when we consider discipline a routine grievance.
Another tool in David’s arsenal is his mastery of playing the harp to calm King Saul’s erratic behavior (1st Samuel 16:23). But David’s greatest skill handling a slingshot gives Israel the victory over their enemy Goliath. Small incremental steps shape David’s skill set allowing him to become the future king. David’s extraordinary results are birthed out of faithfulness to ordinary daily life.
Crafted Especially for Us
Personal experiences prompt us to move forward. We become experts in our individual challenges and life issues. Personal experiences shape us. They are meant to be used as weapons in our arsenal to mold us for purposeful living.
How many times do we pick up someone else’s mantle and use it as our own? Other’s abilities don’t fit us. They are not meant for us. Just as David takes the armor King Saul gives him, he quickly takes it off. He is not able to fight while wearing another person’s armor. And we are not either. Adapting other people’s methods veer us off course. Taking hold of other methods demonstrates to God we are not pleased with his individual plan and specific purpose for our lives.
When we are accomplished in our God-given abilities, we are able to defeat the enemy. How is God calling you to fight your battles? Are you depending on someone else’s expertise or other means to accomplish what God has set before you?
Beautiful beginnings are made known in stages. Beauty unfolds when a bird lifts off into flight and its wings unfold to an impressive six-foot span. Beauty happens when we choose to begin to work through hard places. God is pleased. When we receive God’s delight, we are free to move forward. When surrounding ourselves in the Lord, the rudimentary beginnings don’t seem like drudgery.
The humility of beginning something is the beauty to remain in it.
My grandfather was a carpenter. I remember watching him lay the foundations of his house. I still picture watching him applying mortar to each layer of brick using a trowel, spreading the mortar on the sides to cement each brick together, and knocking each brick into place. He finished this process by scraping off the excess cement only to begin the same process over and over again. Each row began the same way.
Brick layers apply a Mason’s line (a type of a plumb line) as a guide for setting bricks in straight rows. The Mason line did not change according to the whims of my grandfather. Bricks had to line up or risk being crooked. I couldn’t imagine living in a house with a tilted foundation.
God chooses to align his people with his divine standard of measurement.
My grandfather stayed with the task of building his house. And beautiful memories grew out of my twenty plus years visiting his home. On many visits, I discovered projects left undone. Doors had no doorknobs. I opened doors by placing my hands through the holes where the door knob should be. I now realize, foundations of my grandfather’s skill as a carpenter was laid in his early years. He worked his skills and endeavored to finish the necessary formations of his house. The joys each of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren experienced still resonate from my grandfather’s house. They are wrought in God’s beautiful design to begin a work and to see it through.
God fulfills so much more when we decide to start something. After all, He is the one who plants new beginnings. It’s his work.
So, as a single rock is thrown into a pond producing ripples of waves bellowing from an ordinary day at the creek, beautiful skills also arise from ordinary people and from ordinary days. Don’t despise small the beginnings. Don’t focus on the end. Just start. Watch the ripple effects. God sets his standard at the beginning. Our only job is to start, even if it’s for the tenth time. He rejoices to see the work begin.