Saturday, July 3, 2010

"Ordinary" people

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking with a friend about people and their testimonies, their "God stories." She mentioned that one "ordinary person" with an obviously changed life is better than ten thousand sermons. I tend to agree.

It made me think about "ordinary" people. Folks like you and me, who do the "ordinary" every-day life things: we go to work, we fight the traffic, we cook the meals, we wash the dishes, we do the laundry, we scrub the toilets. You get the picture. Then I tried imagining folks that I consider to be "other than ordinary" doing some of those same things.

For example....imagine Oprah with her hair tied up in a bandana, on her knees scrubbing out the toilet. Or maybe picture Joel Osteen, in an old t-shirt and cutoff jeans, changing the oil in the car.

Hard to picture, huh?

People who seem "larger than life" talk at us through the television or the internet, telling us how we should live our lives -- and yet, I think they might have a hard time walking around in "ordinary" shoes.
(Please do not misunderstand me here, I'm not judging them at all. I'm just not so sure that their lives have much in common with "regular" people.)

My mind then wandered to folks I've met in my lifetime whose LIFE is a sermon.

I think of Miss Mildred, who has always worked as hard as anybody I've ever known. She took in a little girl and raised her as her own daughter. She tended an ailing husband for many years. She was at church, praising God every opportunity she got. She had what many would describe as a difficult life. And yet....when I think of Miss Mildred, I think of a woman who loves the Lord, who smiles at and encourages everybody she meets, a woman who is grateful for ALL things life has handed her, both the good and the not-so-good.

I think of my friend D. (not going to spell out her whole name), whose quiet behind-the-scenes generosity has made huge differences in the lives of many people near and far (including mine).

I think of my parents, who brought me up in a solid Christian home. They set an amazing example for me and my sister about how to treat other people. I remember my dad putting together a "care package" for a young man who was in training school for breaking the law. I remember my mom reminding me to "think about how the other person feels." I do not recall ever hearing my parents argue, fuss, or fight. (A counselor once told me I grew up in one of the most normal households he'd ever heard described!)

I think of my husband David whose life totally transformed with his surrender to Christ.

I think of my neighbor Mary Lynn, who sometimes serves as a "conduit" -- she will hear about a need someone has, then link them with someone with an ability to fill that need. Her heart is tremendous -- she gives of herself in service throughout the community.

I think about Christine, Abigail, Gettie, Emmanuel, Alex -- people I met in Ghana over the years that worked "behind the scenes" when we'd be there. These folks prepared our meals, took care of our laundry, helped us in more ways than I can count -- but more important they made us feel welcome.

Ordinary people, who live ordinary lives -- and yet, God uses them in such powerful and extraordinary ways.
Yes, their lives and examples are far greater than any "three points and an altar call" sermon I've ever heard.

A smile, a caring word, an even temper, a bit of encouragement, a card in the mail, acceptance without judgment, a helping hand, a hug when someone is down, paying the next car's bill at the drive-through -- each act like this is a sermon that ordinary people can "preach" without being in a pulpit.

Sometimes, the only Jesus some folks will see is the one in YOU.



Tammy said...

I love this Anita. You are an extraordinary woman living an ordinary life, with extraordinary results!! Bless you

Anita <> said...

Thank you Tammy! YOUR "ordinary life" is an amazing testimony! God bless you -- and we are looking forward to having YOU join us in Ghana one of these days! :)