Have you ever thought about how so much can change in a single moment?
Our lives can take drastic turns in such ordinary moments: through a simple conversation or listening to a podcast or sermon.
“What do you really want to do?” my wife whispered to me.
She knew I was struggling. I had two extremely intense jobs: working as a pastor and social worker. I felt pulled in so many ways and was quickly losing steam.
“Hmm,” I said. “Good question. I’m not really sure.”
“Well,” my wife said, “you should pray about it and think about what you feel God wants you to do.”
That simple question, in an ordinary moment in the middle of the night, sent me on a quest.
For too many years I was doing what I thought I was supposed to be doing, and as a result, had lost focus and passion.
So what happened?
I’ll get to that in a moment.
Life, I’m convinced, is made up of simple, ordinary moments. But those moments can become extraordinary if we let them, if we have the eyes to see beyond the moment.
“The question is, not what you look at, but what you see,” said Henry David Thoreau.
Here are some examples of ordinary moments that became extraordinary and changed the world:
• Rosa Parks, an ordinary woman from Alabama, refused to give up her seat on a bus because of her color and because the white section was full. Years later, the U.S. Senate called her the “first lady of civil rights.” This simple act lead to a movement that changed the course of history.
• G.K. Chesterton, a prolific writer and journalist, strolled along the streets of London with his colleague in 1908. His colleague made a remark about a mutual acquaintance, saying, “That man will get on; he believes in himself.” As Chesterton listened, a city bus passed by with an advertisement for a local insane asylum. Chesterton didn’t miss a beat: “The men who really believe in themselves are all in lunatic asylums.”
“Well, his colleague said in response, “if a man is not to believe in himself, in what is he to believe?”
“I will go home and write a book in answer to that question,” Chesterton said. And he wrote, Orthodoxy, one of the most influential Christian books of the 20th century.
• John Eldredge, one of my favorite authors, met with his friend in a coffee shop a number of years ago about their project. “I think we should write a book about all this,” his friend said. Eldredge brushed it off.
Eldredge writes, “By the time I’d gotten my old ’71 Wagoneer to start, I’d changed my mind.” He goes on to say:
“It’s funny how our destinies turn on such simple moments.”
It’s amazing how God takes the ordinary, even the mundane, and opens our eyes to see a larger story. (Tweet this.)
A few months after my wife had asked me that question in the middle of the night, I got out my journal and wrote down three main words. Each one made my heart soar:
• Advocating (helping people)
I’m happy to announce, after many years of wandering in the wilderness, that I am engaged in these three endeavors!
I leave you with this quote by Oswald Chambers:
“It is ingrained in us that we have to do exceptional things for God – but we do not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life and holy on ordinary streets, among ordinary people.”
Questions: How has your destiny changed in an ordinary moment? What do you need to do to see God at work in the ordinary?
Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons: Scania Group
Note: Book quotes are from G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, and John Eldredge, Way of the Wild Heart.