Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Resolved: To glorify God in the ordinary ...

Following is my article for the January issue of The Messenger, the monthly newsletter of Immanuel Baptist Church:

As we enter 2010, undoubtedly many are making New Years Resolutions. As I thought about some resolutions that need to be made in the upcoming year, I sense God teaching me that I need to learn to value more of what we might call the "ordinary" things. Unfortunately, too often we are led to believe that God is most at work in the spectacular, the miraculous, and the moments of spine-tingling excitement. This can lead us to become spiritually disillusioned, discouraged and depressed. After all, I think it is safe to say that most of us do not experience the spectacular on a regular or frequent basis. If the miraculous were commonplace, it would not be miraculous. I think of Elijah, who likely experienced the miraculous on a more frequent basis and at a more spectacular intensity than anyone else in the Old Testament. Yet, in the wake of one of the most extraordinary displays of God's power in Scripture (the showdown with the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel in 1 Kings 18), Elijah experienced fear and discouragement like never before in his life. As he hid in the cave at Mt. Horeb, God spoke to him and said, "Go forth and stand on the mountain before the Lord." And Elijah beheld a number of spectacular phenomena in that moment. There was a great and strong wind that literally shook and shattered the mountain. But the Bible says that the Lord was not in that wind. And then there was an earthquake, but God was not in the earthquake. After this there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire either. But then the Lord's voice came to Elijah from a gentle blowing breeze, or as the King James Version states it, "a still, small voice." It was in this still, small voice that God spoke encouragement, comfort and direction to His prophet. Perhaps we are too much like Elijah in that we expect God to only work and direct us through the hair-raising excitement of the miraculous. In truth, God is God all the time, and He is at work all the time, even when we do not expect or perceive Him. In the coming year, may we all be more focused on seeking, hearing, understanding, and glorifying God in the quiet moments, the ordinary times, and the mundane tasks we find ourselves doing each day. As we glorify God in these things, we may find that we are walking closer with Him than ever before, that our witness for Him is even more impressive to the unbelievers we know, and that our lives take on an entirely new level of significance and spiritual depth. May it be so for us all in 2010.

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