// ordinary. //

That’s a word that I’ve been struggling with this summer. Ordinary.

I’m not saying that it hasn’t been a wonderful summer, because it has! I’ve had my fair share of trips and adventures, gotten to spend a lot of time with family and a few dear home-friends, made money where I can, and read quite a few books. It’s been restful and it’s been fun, and I’ve enjoyed the break.

But… I can’t help but notice what everyone else is doing this summer. (And really, isn’t that where half our problems begin, when we start comparing?)

Camps, ministries, creative projects, jobs– all these great and wonderful things that are productive and impactful uses of time.

And then there’s me: unable to gain real work experience this summer, no church home to get involved in, haven’t written more than tiny snippets of stories and character notes in an embarrassingly long time, worried that I’ve wasted my summer and done nothing of worth.

These worries all crashed down at once on the Fourth of July, and I was something of a mess.

But, it’s when I am at my lowest and messiest that God begins to teach me some of the most important lessons.

My parents lovingly convicted me of things, reminding me that if I was feeling purposeless, I could change that by actively seeking out things to get involved in, both at home and at Liberty. They also reminded me that God has a purpose for every season of our lives, and that perhaps this summer of freedom and rest was meant to prepare me for the future and to teach me an important lesson.

It’s no surprise, of course, that they were right.

While we were at the beach last week, I was going through a YouVersion Bible study plan called “The Blessing of Ordinary.” Fitting, no?

It wasn’t the greatest Bible study I have ever done, but it did leave me with this:

Acts of great faith and impact only come after we learn to be faithful to the Lord in the ordinary– the daily– the mundane.

And perhaps this seems like common knowledge to everyone; on its own, it’s not that profound. But it struck me last week, in the best of ways.

See, I am a dreamer. For years I’ve been asking God to use me for His glory; for years I’ve wanted to do something wonderful and impactful and brave. I still do– a life of complacency isn’t a real life.

But see, while I’m asking God to do mighty things in and through my life, He is asking me to just be faithful to Him.

If I’m not faithful when life is easy and rosy, how on earth will I be faithful when the time comes for me to act on faith and make an impact? (Answer: I won’t. And that is a saddening and sobering thought.)

So… yes, it’s important to live a life of purpose. Yes, it’s important to seek the Lord and go after the opportunities He wants you to. Yes, it’s important to get up off your rear and act.

But I am also learning that ordinary is okay. Ordinary can be beautiful. And ordinary is the time when I ought to be fixing my eyes on Jesus and forming habits of daily prayer and reading the Word. Confession: I have never been great at consistently spending time in prayer and the Bible every single day. I am better than I was, but not where I want to be– and Jesus is bringing me to that place in this seemingly-ordinary season that I had been so frustrated with two weeks ago.

I think that this summer has really been about one thing: drawing me closer to Jesus. Teaching me to talk with Him more and to cut out all the stuff of earth that “competes for the allegiance I owe only to the Giver of all good things” (Rich Mullins, “If I Stand”). To rest in His grace and His never-wavering faithfulness to us even when we’re struggling to be faithful to Him (2 Tim. 2:13).

If you’re in a season that feels impact-less: I feel you. It’s frustrating. But please don’t get so wrapped up in self-pity and worry and frustration and comparison that you miss out on what God’s trying to teach you through this. And don’t forget to spend time with Him daily, to be faithful in the daily steps He wants you to take, no matter how small they seem. If you’re in an ordinary season– make the most of it. And please don’t make the mistake of thinking you have no impact just because you’re not doing what everyone else is doing right now. “Comparison is the thief of joy.” It accomplishes nothing.

Instead, take a deep breath, fix your eyes on Jesus, and look for the beauty and the growth within the ordinary. It’s there, I promise. And this season, frustrating though it may be, can and will be used by the Lord to grow and reshape you into someone who is stronger and ready to do kingdom work. Just be faithful, no matter where you are or what you’re doing, and soon you’ll begin to see the change.

As for today? Here’s your to-do list (and mine as well):

“He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,[a]
and to walk humbly with your God?”

{Micah 6:8, ESV}

Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly with God.

The rest is all detail.

{love always, Em}

// Also: Here’s a playlist of songs of praise to be listened to when your heart just needs to be still and know that He is God. //