Thursday, September 19, 2013

Splendor in the ordinary

From Trevin Wax's interview of Michael Kelly, author of Boring:
Trevin: Why do we need to be okay with a boring life? And why is it we shouldn’t think of life as boring?

Michael: Part of the reason is expectation. The fact is that all of us are going to spend the bulk of our time on this planet doing things that might be considered boring – paying bills, living in a routine, going to work, parenting kids. But because we live in a culture that’s constantly feeding an obsession with excitement and grandeur, we look at these seemingly mundane areas of our lives as things to be escaped from.

But time and time again in the Bible, we not only find instruction about how to live in these ordinary areas, but also the great meaning behind them. Because we want to escape from the ordinary, regardless of our reasoning behind it, one of the things that desire betrays is our subtle belief that true life with Jesus is found outside of those areas. So if we truly believe in the presence and purpose of God, we must look for that presence and purpose inside the ordinary rather than beyond it.

When we do, we can recover the meaning that God has infused in the everyday. It’s that new perspective brought on by our belief in an ever-present God that takes what might be considered ordinary and makes it extraordinary.

Trevin: You talk about how we need to recapture the boring, disciplined aspects of Christianity, because “feelings follow faith.” What do you mean by that?

Michael: More times than not, we are obedient to our feelings. We choose what feels right in any given circumstance. But part of growing in Christ is understanding that like all other parts of our lives, our feelings have been broken by sin and are in need of the redemptive power of God. Growing in Christ, then, involves imposing what we believe onto what we feel.

The psalmist did this all the time when he spoke to his soul: “Why are you downcast, O my soul?” and so forth. In passages like this, the psalmist recognizes that his feelings don’t line up with what he knows to be true about God. He is, in essence, preaching to himself – reminding his feelings of the truth.

When we choose to live according to the truth of God rather than what we feel, we often must contradict our feelings. We must instead choose the road of faith, and when we do, we most of the time find that our feelings follow along. But rarely is it the other way around. ....

Trevin: The main point of this book is that God is the one who makes ordinary things extraordinary. How has this realization invested your life with more significance?

Michael: More than anything else, it has helped me to see the validity of the so-called “normal” follower of Jesus – that man or woman who works hard at their job, raises their family in a godly way, and volunteers in their local church. Rarely do we think of these kinds of folks as heroes, but they are the bedrocks. They are the mighty. They are the solid people who live out their faith in the everyday. [more]
The heading of this post is lifted from the title of a book by Thomas Howard.