“We’re in a lull right now,” and I knew what the radio announcer meant — it’s the in-between of seasons. School & football have started and daylight is waning but I’m not ready for raking leaves and buying pumpkin-everything.
I’m wearing long-sleeves & jeans while my daughter is in shorts because we can’t figure out what to wear. Sandals or boots today?
Seems to early to plant pansies, but my flower beds that bloomed heartily in the heart of summer are tired and done.
September lulls me back into a reluctant place of fixing lunches and checking homework and making lists and running errands. The beginning of September, like a second January of sorts, was filled with newness and expectancy, but now our days feel stalled in the “in-between.”
Gone are the carefree days of summer and yet to come are the cozy comforts of fall. It’s just an ordinary day.
These are the days when my creativity is as drained as my flowers, or so I think. I’d like to be inspired by the autumn reds, yellows, and oranges but those colors have yet to burst on the scene. Maybe I could compose inspirational words about Thanksgiving but it’s not the giving-thanks season.
Perhaps you feel this way? Could you be in an in-between place too? Life feels kind of uninspiring, maybe small. There’s nothing especially spectacular about you or your world at the moment. Maybe a season of productivity has wilted like tired flowers. Do you have anything to offer? You wonder if God is able to use you in this place, this lull.
But even if you don’t claim “art” as a profession or hobby, you’re an artist. Did you know that? Every day you’re given opportunities to tell a story, weave words into conversation, create environments for your professional and personal relationships, and reflect the image of our creative and caring God.
God can use you in the lull. This ordinary place can be a meaningful offering, and perhaps an eye-opener to the million little ways that God is showing up in your life, ready to be expressed in your world.
“When we resist living within our ordinary days, we are in danger of losing a sense of ourselves. We don’t need to walk away from our routines and daily rhythms to find something more interesting. More often we need to wake up to them” (page 118).
Sacred happens between the church aisles, but may God give us eyes to see Him in the grocery aisle, the hallways of home, the neighborhood sidewalks, and all the ordinary, ordained paths that make up life.
I recently traveled a painful journey through sickness and loss, with crisis moments along the way. And just months ago, I experienced the kind of poverty that wrecked my insulated, North American existence.
Why, why, why would I feel dulled by ordinary days?
Perhaps in managing life, I’m missing life being beautiful.
To me, this ordinary day finds me not at the hospital or responding to an emergency or wondering where my child’s next meal will come from. In my context, ordinary is quite a gift. But I’m not entitled to ordinary. I never know when life will bottom out or go roller-coaster on me again, so each ordinary moment offers me a choice about my perspective. Will boredom or blessing set the tone of this day?
Ordinary days – September days – consist of life-giving moments. Instead of waiting for the next big thing, I want to settle into the small beauty of packing lunches and checking homework (except math). Little moments of intimacy can matter for eternity while grandiose moments of importance might last as long as the wood, hay, and stubble.
My soul craves a giving-thanks day every day. A lull can be a holy space to simply breathe and receive grace; to stop controlling and allow Him to design the canvas; to step back and be yielded to the vision of the Artist; to pause and behold what He calls beautiful.
Ordinary is where our most God-glorifying art comes from. As we search for God’s purpose for our lives, He’s beckoning us to just pay attention to where He is working.
The beauty of our lives is drawn out of our response to God, and He meets us, not just on Sundays, but in the seeking heart.
Friend, your ordinary matters.
“Ministering in everyday opportunities that surround us does not mean that we select our own surroundings— it means being God’s very special choice to be available for use in any of the seemingly random surroundings which He has engineered for us. The very character we exhibit in our present surroundings is an indication of what we will be like in other surroundings.
The things Jesus did were the most menial of everyday tasks, and this is an indication that it takes all of God’s power in me to accomplish even the most common tasks in His way. Can I use a towel as He did? Towels, dishes, sandals, and all the other ordinary things in our lives reveal what we are made of more quickly than anything else. It takes God Almighty Incarnate in us to do the most menial duty as it ought to be done.” Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, entry for September 11.
Your art is made of whatever opportunity you have to sanctify life and glorify God. Whatever your art is – your parenting, your listening, your befriending, your mastery with numbers, your teaching, your writing, your praying, your building, your homemaking, your giving – it matters.
You are God’s workmanship, and any given day holds holy, if unexpected, moments in which He can orchestrate experiences where His glory blows your blinders off.
Fellow artist, let’s show up to the page. Let’s be who we are and offer our ordinary without concerning ourselves with the outcomes. Sacred things happen in September.
“The meaning of our lives is not dependent upon what we make of it but of what he is making of us … What makes us come alive goes deeper that what we choose to do in our professions and our free time. What makes us come alive is life, and this life is Jesus. Painting, cooking, parenting, calculating, and conversation all have the potential to hold within them a mystery and an expression of our life in Christ. Emily Freeman, A Million Little Ways, page 30.
“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 the ordinary streets, among ordinary people – and this is not learned in five minutes.” Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest.
“The discovery of God lies in the daily and the ordinary, not in the spectacular and the heroic. If we cannot find God in the routines of home and shop, then we will not find Him at all.” Richard Foster, Prayer.
I found the Oswald Chambers and Richard Foster quotes in Emily Freeman’s Simply Tuesday, her latest book on the grace & beauty of small-moment living.