I have a problem. Some might even call it an addiction.
In college, I became hooked on adrenaline rushes. Now that I have matured some, I might say that I am addicted to new and exciting things. I love going on adventures to new places to explore, hike, climb, paddle, or learn new skills. Often I find myself becoming listless and bored if my life has too much routine to it.
I collect new hobbies, too. Whether it’s learning pottery, how to play the mandolin, how to build an instrument from scratch, or learning to mountain bike, paddle whitewater, or rock climb, I enjoy learning new things! My mom once asked me why I didn’t just apply myself to one hobby and get really good at it. I didn’t have an answer at the time, but now I do. I value new and exciting experiences that keep me moving toward learning new things.
This longing for something new and exciting also pops up in my relationship with God.
I’m on the lookout for God to speak something profound and life-changing, either for me or the groups I minister to. And when the response I get from Him is silence or something I’ve already taught or heard countless times before, I think God has stopped communicating with me. It’s the same message, and it easily feels mundane, repetitive, and sometimes just plain boring.
Perhaps God actually wants to meet us in normal, everyday life rather than in an exciting new adventure.
Don’t get me wrong here. Going to conferences and concerts, exploring new places, receiving a word from the Lord through prayer or a dream are all necessary and valuable ways that God speaks to us. And yet, I am beginning to learn that the deepest and most profound transformation occurs through what happens in normal, everyday life.
Henri Nouwen in his book Life of the Beloved says that “Becoming the Beloved means letting the truth of our Belovedness become enfleshed in everything we think, say, or do…to become the Beloved in the commonplaces of my daily existence and, bit by bit, to close the gap that exists in the countless specific realities of everyday life.”
One day, not that long ago, I was praying with some co-workers for the ministry we were preparing to do that day. I asked for prayers to be inspired, noting that I had not felt very inspired with new insights for groups all summer. In short, I was complaining that God had not given me a new and exciting message to speak, and I was tired of the normal, everyday messages I had been using. One of my co-workers nodded in agreement and deep thought. After a moment, he looked me in the eye and said, “It requires us to die to ourselves to communicate the message God wants us to communicate, whether it’s new and fresh to us or not. And these students may not have heard that message before. It’s only old to you.” That hit me square between the eyes and caused me to pause in that place. Isn’t this what Paul was talking about in Galatians 2:20 when he said, “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”
In essence, God is doing the work of transforming my co-workers and me in the common places of day-to-day living.
The process of becoming the Beloved is not always exciting or full of new adventures, realities, and victories.
Instead, it is about training to live a normal, everyday life from a different space. This space is driven less by what I think I need and more by what I actually need to be loved, valued, and secure. It is driven by the beautiful, God-given desires planted and growing within me and comes more from a place of being than doing. It is the place of surrender, not grasping; the place of trusting, not understanding.
This different space can feel painful because it is counter-intuitive and opposite of what seems most natural and easy. It can feel absolutely disorienting…and yet it draws me in. I find myself more curious about what God is leading me toward, and the unknown in that is beginning to look more and more like a worthwhile adventure lived out day to day, not in the next new adventure or experience I dream about. God wants to meet me in this space, too, and this is the space where my deeper transformation is being molded as I surrender my desire for the new and exciting from God and settle into the grand adventure of learning to trust Him, letting Christ live in me in my normal, everyday life.
Are there some ways God is wanting to transform you in the midst of normal, everyday life? Perhaps as friends gather for a meal in your home, as you learn to love your spouse and children, in the people you encounter throughout your day, and as you go about your daily tasks at work? God is ready and wants to live in you in your normal, everyday life. Will you let Him?