Enjoy your average life today
SEEKING A LARGER-THAN-LIFE
We live in a celebrity culture where people’s extraordinary talents, capabilities and accomplishments are sprayed across America and touted as being the ideal life for you and I. We see those few people who are indeed “bigger than life,” and suddenly ours looks small, insignificant and mundane.¨
Deep down, I believe most of us are affected by it. We have daydreams of what it would be like to lead a new social justice movement in the likeness of Martin Luther King Jr., or to make that idea you had a reality that could just catapult you as the next Steve Jobs or Nicholas Tesla. Maybe you could be the next JK Rowling with that story that’s in your head, or the boy-to-stardom Leonardo DiCaprio or Ben Affleck with your unknown acting skills. Our dreams can go on forever as we bask in our average, day to day experiences that seem less than super-sized. You never see a news article titled, “Mom changes five poop diapers in a single day” or “Dad successfully fixed a leaky shower head in less than four hours,” or “College grad lands a low wage sales job that has no relation to what he studied in school.”
THE “PRINCE OF PREACHERS
Us pastors have our own struggles with dreams. For example, I love to read about Charles Spurgeon. A pastor living in London during the 19th century (often called the “Prince of Preachers”), he was one of those few people in history who lived a life of unrivaled productivity. To list just a few things of this man’s phenomenal life:
- He preached over 600 times before he was 20 years old
- His sermons began being published directly after they were preached, causing him the inability to repeat his sermons. Therefore, some weeks he would preach daily, and each sermon was forced to be new content. â€¨
- He often worked 18 hours a day, and he did so throughout extreme physical suffering as he battled Gout, deep depression and intense criticism from much of the Western world¨
- By the end of his life, 50+ different successful organizations could find their origin through him, including an orphanage and a Pastor’s College
- In 1865, His sermons were being published and sold at a rate of 20,000+ copies weekly
- He brought a church of 230 in London to 5,000+ members, making it in his day the largest church in the worldâ€¨
- He is estimated to have preached to 10 million people in his lifetime
- He read six books a week, and had a remarkable talent to remember everything he ever read and could recall most of the contents of these books by memory when asked
- Wrote many books during his lifetime, three of which have sold over 1,000,000 copies
- All of this was accomplished with no formal education
- And on and on and on….
And guess what? I’m nothing like this guy. I’m 30 years old, and I’ve never started an organization. And I waste too much time reading senseless blogs and watching stupid YouTube videos in hopes to one-up the last stupid one I found. Yesterday I had a 15 minute conversation with my three year old son about why Batman doesn’t wear a diaper to bed like he does (mind you he was wearing a batman cape/mask with nothing else on but his nighttime diaper). And the fact is this - my life is at risk of being very ordinary compared to Charles Spurgeon.
CHECKING OUT OF REALITY
And maybe your life is, well… normal, too. And your dreams are causing you to check out more and more. You find yourself numbing down your emotions through mindless activities like watching movies, television, or playing Candy Crush. Your back is faced towards your spouse at night while you read a book, avoiding any real conversation before you go to bed. You can’t wait till football season begins, so you can escape to Sports center and your man cave and not deal with things you know you should deal with. You try to ignore your reality through these outlets, and all the while you don’t realize your checking out.
A few years back, a movie titled “Eat, Pray, Love” glorified this story. A woman who was married and living a average life suddenly realized she wasn’t happy. In this scene below, we see her coming to grips with how she felt:
Soon after she left her husband and traveled the world on a adventure of self-discovery and joy, trying to truly “be herself” and experience the things she always wanted to experience.¨
Most of us wont pick up, check out of our life and leave our spouse to do this in the name of self discovery. Yet many of our hearts can go there.
FINDING FULFILLMENT IN THE ORDINARY¨
We all must finally come to grips with the reality that most of us will live average lives. When you and I die, our story will not hit school textbooks, or movies will not be made about our lives. Books will not mention our name, and we will not go down in history for all we accomplished. Regardless of all the wonderful speeches made during high school and college graduation about “accomplishing your dreams” and “reaching for the stars,” 99% will get married, get a normal job, have kids, and live on.
This truth doesn’t sell well or garner much attention. But it’s what most of us will realize. And, believe it or not, this is not a bad thing. In an astonishing truthful portion of Scripture, the author of Ecclesiasties writes truths that our culture wants to deny:
"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace…. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man."
This is how I interpret Solomon’s words here - we all experience the events mentioned above. It’s normal. This was written thousands of years ago in a different part of the world in an entirely different culture, yet still bears the truth that all of us will experience similar things in life. Call it a routine life for us. After surveying the qualities of a normal existence, we realize that not all of them are happy things. But hey, it’s life. And then he says something you’ll never hear said in movies or TV today -
“There is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in his toil - this is God’s gift to man.”
There isn’t a qualifying statement of “as long as your toil is an extraordinary one.” I take his statement as referring to the tired moms out there who haven’t slept a full night’s sleep in years. I take his statement as talking to the man who is hitting his 30th year of the same job, living in the same house, married to the same woman. I take his statement to speak about the average toil of life - the average life. It’s OK to have this sort of existence. In fact, it isn’t meaningless after all. It is God’s gift to man. And we should do it with excellence, by the help of God.
ENJOY YOUR AVERAGE LIFE TODAY
Thanks to Christ Jesus we have a different fulfillment in life. Through the cross and his resurrection we realized that we are not living for ourselves any longer. Life isn't about us, or our happiness. We are living for him, and we belong to another world, not this one. All things in this life are gifts and blessings from him, even the difficult, not so happy or joyous seasons. He showed us that our purpose isn’t found in what we do, but rather who we are. We don't need more than what we currently have to find fulfillment. Jesus is enough. And thus, an average life doesn’t become scary to live, but something we can joyfully embrace as we enjoy the daily rhythms we are given.
Don’t miss the blessings of a child’s silly joke, or the smell of the summer grass basking in the hot sun. Don’t miss the blessing of the food that made those dishes dirty, or the clothing that made your laundry pile so high. Through Christ, we don’t have to strive to accomplish great things to find fulfillment. It’s right in front of us.
We can enjoy our average life today.
More in Blog
April 4, 2019Don’t Hide from the Big Questions: Christianity’s answer to the very meaning of life
March 16, 2019Growing this Church Plant 17th Century Style: The Power of Community, Prayer and Service
December 29, 2018My Year in Books: 2018