Thoughts on How to Live an Extraordinary Life
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” ~James 4:10
I was nineteen. My friend and I were hanging out in my dorm room. She was part of the university yearbook staff and had a bold, irreverent personality combined with a dry, sarcastic sense of humor. I simultaneously admired her and found her hilarious while privately fearing whatever might come out of her mouth. She was talking about needing to find students to feature in the yearbook. And I momentarily forgot my insecurity and half-jokingly volunteered as an interview subject.
And I’ll never forget the gist of her response.
“You? What have you done worth writing about?”
She wasn’t joking.
I may have made some feeble attempt at convincing her my life was interesting or just laughed at myself in an effort to hide my hurt.
Her words stung.
In that same season of my life , my on-again-off-again college boyfriend warned me of our perceived differences when he said, “I need to live an extraordinary life.”
I don’t remember how I responded but I do remember thinking, when did I become the poster child for ordinary?
I’ll show those jerks.
But how does one become extraordinary?
Our world sells its version.
It tells us what it takes to be significant and how to get there.
Do something important with your life!
Just do it.
Believe in yourself.
Don’t be on your deathbed wishing you had pursued your passions.
We all long for significance, meaning and something more. We are made for worship and purpose.
But how do we get there?
What if the way to real significance had nothing to do with us pursuing it and everything to do with surrendering to the one who made us?
And in asking this question, I’ll be honest. This is something I wrestle with in my heart.
I have to remind myself to keep my eyes on what really matters. I want to be obedient to God’s calling by worshipping Him and serving others and trusting Him wholeheartedly.
“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things- and the things that are not- to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God- that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.’” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31
Throughout the Bible, God is often using lowly people and despised circumstances. He chose an unwed teenage girl to carry his son. He chose a shepherd boy to lead his people as king. He chose a foreign slave to save his people from famine. He chose a band of misfits to be Jesus’ inner circle. He chose ordinary women to be the first to reach the tomb. He chose a child born in a stable in a nothing town to die the death of a rejected criminal to carry the weight of world.
God seems to have a history of choosing people based on their heart posture towards Him and not on their posturing before other people.
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23 & 24
This past Monday, we had our first snowfall. And my van got stuck in the driveway as I was trying to leave to get the kids to school. One neighbor walked by and stopped to tell me I needed a new vehicle and my husband should come to him later for car advice. But a friend- a person we’ve hired for random yard work this past year- pulled up for a job to shovel snow next door. He saw me and asked if he could help. For twenty minutes, he shoveled snow, sprinkled dirt, and maneuvered my van so I could leave my driveway. And when I came home, my driveway was clear. Almost as if someone had deliberately cleared it…
It was a great reminder to me of that true saying, “actions speak louder than words.”
Instead of trying or striving to display anything, we can simply ask God to teach us how to love well and be people who do.
Jesus Christ didn’t teach celebrity worship. Instead, His life was about humility, suffering, and doing things for God’s glory not man’s fickle attention. He talked about pursuing the things of God first and trusting everything to our Father in heaven. Jesus demonstrated love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
In God’s kingdom, having an extraordinary story is about submitting to Him, it’s not about the crowds in your corner. Make no mistake, our ordinary lives are meant to be extraordinary but only because of God’s power and love shining through us.
This morning I watched a trailer for an upcoming film called, “Breakthrough.” Ooh it looks good. It’s a movie based on the true story of a kid from the Midwest who fell through some frozen ice, spent fifteen minutes underwater and could not be revived. I won’t give away any details the trailer doesn’t show but yeah, the kid doesn’t stay dead.
God performed a miracle.
Like I do sometimes when I’m captivated by a good story, I Googled for more information. I came across a video with multiple medical professionals expressing a sense of awe including a quote from Lisle Wescott, the president of the hospital that provided treatment, “We’re changed because of it. If you weren’t a believer before, you’re a believer now.”
Absolutely powerful stuff.
I may have cried a little.
Other people must have had similar reactions because I read that the trailer broke some kind of record on Facebook.
But then, I noticed the name of the kid with the extraordinary story.
Try Googling that name. “John Smith.” I did. A kid with a miracle story isn’t even one of the top hits.
Not many names get more ordinary than John or Smith.
And then I just chuckled.
God makes me laugh sometimes.
It’s not about us. It’s about Him.
To God, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a John Smith, a college kid without a dramatic story, or a nobody to the world.
Your perfect 10 status, social media numbers, church growth or triumphs in and of themselves mean nothing.
God looks at the heart.
“For the eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” ~ 2 Chronicles 16:9a
“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7b