Week four of a New Year’s resolution is not for sissies. Week four is when you notice your biggest supporters, Motivation, Novelty, and Determination, have all packed up camp and headed to wherever they hide. I’m guessing they ran way ahead of me to the final days of December. Or rushed on to Lent. Or are waiting for me in the countdown to swim season. Bye, Felicia.
These are the days when our chronic, nagging problems hang in the air of our living rooms where the holly used to be. It’s when dreary chores and doctor’s appointments fill the squares of our calendar instead of parties and breaks. It’s when, in your Bible reading plan, you hit the book of Numbers.
The church calendar says we’re in “Ordinary Time”, the days between the Christmas and Easter seasons. These are the weeks that don’t have a special name, but are simply numbered, or “ordered”. The name itself sounds like a warning, “These are the days of dull, hard work, so we suggest you just count down to the next special event. Good luck.”
So, like prisoners, we mark off the days and forget God has a history of doing remarkable work in ordinary times and in ordinary hearts.
Like on an ordinary trip to the well for water, one woman realized she was fully known, yet fully loved by her Savior. He used an ordinary chore to help her realize her greatest thirst.
“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4: 13-14
Or when Jesus used an ordinary lunch of loaves and fish to show thousands of people they could rest in His provision.
“And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.” Matthew 14: 20-21
Ordinary men, women, and children were hungry and without hope, then satisfied. Miraculous.
These personal accounts challenge me. Why don’t I expect more from these ordinary days? Why don’t I look to Him to bring a miracle out of the mundane? Or glory from the daily grind?
Why am I surprised when He turns an average week day into a holy day in history?
Because during these ordinary times, those stories (and Christmas) seem so far away. And to be honest, I prefer to count on my calendar and on myself. I’m good at mustering up and managing. Waiting in my weakness? No thanks.
I look forward to and expect Christmas miracles, but not from the grey days of February. I long for newness and a fresh-as-Easter life, but that’s gonna have to wait for the brightness of spring. Carry on, soldier.
These days are for the pragmatic and hard-working. We don’t have time to mess around.
I wish the calendar would remind me that any day we wait on the Lord with hope, joy, love, and peace, is Advent.
Any time the divine hand of God reaches down into our humanity, it’s Christmas.
Any moment we choose the way of the cross over the way of the world, we have Lent.
And when we hand over our dead lives for a resurrected one, it’s Easter.
Knowing God, why don’t we expect more from The Ordinary Time?
Maybe it’s because we don’t know Him enough.
Still, I’d like to propose that we change the liturgical calendar. Let’s give these in-between times an extraordinary name, like “Super Sparkly Grace Season”. Or… “God’s Power for the People Period”. Or maybe “Miraculous Months”.
Well, let’s keep thinking. In the meantime, and no matter what we call these numbered days, let’s invite God to do a number on this ordinary day and with this sissy soul.
It’s His favorite kind of day ever. His favorite kind of soul. Count on it.