Thursday, May 7, 2015

Seasons of Ordinary

for Tarah

“Do you miss living on the cutting edge?”

This was the question a dear friend asked me recently as we reflected on our present suburban existence. 

She was referring to the Season of Adventure in my life, the Africa Years, the years I awed my friends back home with stories of camel rides among pyramids, elephants in my back yard, face-offs with village witch-doctors, and shaking hands with kings. 

They were riveted with my tales of whole villages burning their charms and following Christ, hidden children found and given new smiles, prostitutes rescued from the streets and transformed.

Today, my evening tales spin of the stuff of broken garage doors, children begging for play dates, and trying to discern the difference between natural flavoring and msg on grocery store labels. I regale my friends with my stories of woe as I nurse three children through three different illnesses at the same time and try to remember I have to take brownies to Field Day on Friday.

I have joined the army of Mothers at Home, the ones who have to reply “Unemployed” to the bank clerk when asked her occupation.

Africa’s golden hills and her adventures seem so distant to me now.

I have become one of a vast force of ordinary people in this land. Quietly crying out to God in the car line as we wait for our kids to come out of school, silently praying for our lives to count as we fold laundry at 11:30 pm after all is still, praying as we run at 5 am while the whole family sleeps. Crying out, praying, asking for our lives to count for His kingdom.

Don't let me waste my life, Lord, our spirits groan as we drift off into an exhausted sleep after mentally running through our to-do list for tomorrow. In our dreams we remember we had careers, we had exotic adventures once, we left it all for Him, we traveled.

The Truth of the matter is this: all who are remembered for greatness in God’s kingdom had long seasons of quiet mundane existence. 

Of growth and change. Of persevering faithfulness and stubborn refusal to give up. Most of life was made up of Seasons of Ordinary. The Grand Adventures which are highlighted by the heralds were actually brief in the scheme of most great lives.

The faithful persistence of the follower of Christ is actually the norm, and the Adventure is the exceptional privilege.

Like the trees which grow from small seeds, eventually bearing fruit, we must understand that we were created as seasonal beings. We must yield to the hard work of waiting through the growing seasons, stretching our arms in worship to the Maker of heaven and earth, boring our roots deep into His truth. And as we grow, our seasons will change. 

Seasons of fruit are beautiful and nourishing to so many around us, but impossible without the long seasons of apparent fruitlessness in between. Do not despise the quiet, ordinary season, my friend. We were made for a seasonal existence, to bear fruit in its season.

I personally prefer fruit season all the time. I am a high adventure, high-adrenaline junkie. But I have lived in North Africa when the figs were so heavy and abundant on the vine that they could not be completely harvested. The result was a stench and a sticky mess. Too much fruit, too long. It was a waste.

I have learned to trust He knows better what I need than I. How thankful I am that He leads me beside quiet waters and restores my soul! He never wastes the fruit He bears in us. The fruit you bear is someone else's portion. It is appointed for them, from your obedience, to their need, never wasted.

In my small garden in Kenya, I was determined to grow tomatoes. Rain was infrequent, and I had to use precious water collected from our tin roof to keep the seedlings moist. For a time, they sprouted and grew, but then they seemed to become dormant and spindly, bearing pitiful resemblance to the tall and spicy-fragranced vines I remembered back in Tennessee. 

One day in frustration I pulled one up. To my surprise, the root ball was bigger than my fist. Within two weeks, the plants increased in size more than double and began to bear the tiniest promises of little tomato fruits. 

I have often remembered those feeble-looking tomato plants during slow and discouraging periods in my life. Perhaps it is those times, as we continue to nourish our souls with His word, that the roots of our lives are growing spectacularly in the unseen places of the heart.  

God is growing me during the Seasons of Ordinary, and though I may not see it, I can know that it will be seen in the coming fruit season. 

With certainty it will come, for I was made to bear fruit in its season, and so were you.

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates both day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does will prosper. -Psalm 1:1-3

Are you in a Season of Ordinary or a Season of Adventure right now? Be sure to share your insights into life’s seasons in the comment section below. 


Faithful persistence is actually the norm, and the Adventure is the exceptional privilege. (Click to Tweet)

Do not despise the quiet, ordinary seasons of life. We were made to bear fruit in season. (Click to Tweet)

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