Serving outside your home culture is exciting . . . unless it isn’t.
In the early days on the field we run on dreams, ideals, apprehensions, and adrenaline. That intoxicating mix makes every day feel like a new adventure. Emotions run the gamut from energized and enthused to terrified and confused. But whatever the day holds, we are not bored. There are so many good things happening that we cannot imagine not feeling thrilled that we play a part in this divine drama.
Then, almost imperceptibly, our days become common. There may be some of my readers who live in places where the excitement never wanes, but most PWs have many ordinary days. We see the same people and do the same chores, day in and day out. How can that possibly be what God intended for us to do? Doesn’t He send people out of their home culture to do great works for Him? Aren’t we world changers?
It seems that even world changers have ordinary days. We do not read about them in the Bible, but surely those heroes of the faith had them.
It is in the ordinary days that we choose to glorify God. If we fail to make that conscious decision, we waste our ordinary days. Even worse, we settle into the routine with a kind of resignation.
In truth, the way we live day-by-day is what sets us apart. Our lives are not defined by the extraordinary as much as by the commonplace.
Here’s what A.W. Tozer tells us about common people living common days for an uncommon purpose:
“The true Christian is uncommon for the reason that he is not in the majority; he is as different from the world in which he lives as Abraham was different from the inhabitants of Canaan. He is likely to be a person with no claims to greatness or superiority; but moral standards, attitudes toward fame, money, earthly pleasures, life and death, mark him as a being from another world.”
We are expatriates, ladies. We know that from our passports. But we are more. We are aliens! We are more than different. We are distinctive. Our differences go far beyond our color or language. Like the disciples, we have been with Jesus, and He gives our lives a unique fragrance.
People see the difference in ways that we easily overlook. If Christ is real and present in us, even the way we treat our own family members can speak to those we serve.
One of my favorite devotions is based on the sermons of George Morrison, a Scottish preacher from the late 1800s. He said,
“. . . bear in mind that He (the Father) never takes you for granted. Other people are doing that continually: they have you classified and stuck in boxes. But to Him you are always wonderful, though you are only a typist in an office and nobody would ever call you clever.”
When my children were little, I couldn’t travel outstation with my husband most of the time. It was easy to feel that my cooking, cleaning, and laundry were meaningless tasks. I knew it was important that I was there for my sons, but there seemed no way I was serving the people we were sent to serve.
But to God, all that common house work had real worth. The cooking, cleaning, laundry, and child care freed my husband to do his work. Keeping a good home helped my sons feel secure. And our life in the fishbowl of a new culture was a living example of what we said we believed.
This verse in Colossians became very real to me and helped me deal with these ordinary tasks. “And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” –Colossians 3:17,23, NLT
We never know when some ordinary day will become an extraordinary day. Mary was visited by an angel on an ordinary day. Jesus called his disciples on ordinary days. Those days were pivotal not only for those people, but for multitudes through the ages. An ordinary conversation with a neighbor could change the future of the people you serve. Many great things start from a small beginning.
As one ordinary woman to another, let’s agree to never forget the importance of our common days. There is more glory there than we could know.