We live in a world where a lot of really bad things happen. Sometimes these near-daily atrocities are caused by evil people; other times they reach crisis-levels as a byproduct of inaction and apathy; and still other tragedies seem to be completely random and unavoidable.
In each of these cases, we’ve come to label those who step up to respond or fight back as “heroes”– extraordinary people who do extraordinary things to make the world a better place.
But something just hit me, and quite timely, too, since today is New Year’s Eve (I’ll explain in a moment).
Few people truly see themselves as extraordinary. Hopefully I’m not bursting anyone’s bubble here, but Batman and Superman aren’t real. I don’t mean to diminish the gratitude that is due those who make a difference in the lives of others, but my guess is those we call “heroes” would say they were just doing what they felt called to do– little things, consistently but intentionally, to the point where they eventually saw amazing results.
Ask the surgeon whose quick-thinking actions in the operating room preserved their patient’s life if the word “hero” was flashing in their minds while it all happened. Ask the soldier who courageously responded in a firefight if he felt like he was doing anything he wasn’t expected to do. Ask the man or woman who lost 100 pounds if they felt like any of their thousand workouts gave them a heroic feeling. Ask the foster or adoptive parent if they signed up and committed to take in a child who had nowhere else to go because they wanted to be extraordinary. The amazingly honest answer in each case is… no… it was simply what they knew they were supposed to do based on what they knew was important.
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you likely see yourself as valuable and precious to God, but you also probably realize that you are no more special to Him than anyone else is. As witnesses to our own lives, we realize that we are imperfect and make mistakes. We are not extraordinary. No one really is.
So why do we label people as extraordinary if they really aren’t?
Here’s what I’ve realized: “extraordinary people” are still just ordinary people who choose to do ordinary things– only those ordinary things are consistent with what they know is extraordinarily important.
Let me explain that a bit. So much of what we do with our lives is frankly just a waste of our God-given time. We get bogged down with things that are so unimportant that we have given labels of “hero” and “extraordinary” to the few ordinary people who just know and act consistently with what is actually important.
I’m hoping this makes as much sense to you as it does to me. Since normal people doing abnormal and unhealthy things has become so devastatingly common, it seems as if those who don’t do abnormal things–things we weren’t made to do– are extraordinary. But if we were each to identify and remain focused on what our deep-seated conviction tells us is extraordinarily important in this life, this world would simply be full of ordinary people doing ordinary things– things we were made to do.
This New Year’s, let’s simply commit to focusing on what is supposed to be ordinary for us. Like the Greatest Commandment of loving God above all else, this commitment of being involved in ordinary things encompasses all the other New Year’s resolutions we might think of. Just like the Old Testament Law, it’s not about a list of individual resolutions. There really is just one. As believers in Christ, we need only to ask ourselves what we would do and how we would live if we were consistent with what we believe.
Let’s be ordinary children of God, adopted by Him to be obedient and focused on the things God has told us are beyond important– eternally important. Based on that simple idea, what does that mean you quit, or do less of this year? What does that mean you begin, or do more of?