I went to a concert the other night. It was a spiritual high for me, a jolt in the arm, a time of worship and reflection. It was good. A mountain top experience coupled with lights, good music, and a few thousand of my closet friends (none of whom I ever met). I like those moments. Those are the moments God seems close. I feel attentive and spiritually sensitive. The problem I’m finding is that they don’t last. The songs end. The concert comes to a close. The venue empties.
The next morning I made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the boys. I put pretzels in their lunches and cut apples. After they inhaled a bowl of cereal, changed into clothes that actually matched, and I made one final bag check to make sure they weren’t smuggling Pokemon cards to school, I rushed them out the door and off to school.
I battled the car pool line with all the grace I could humanly muster and headed for a cup of coffee and a bagel. When I walked into the office I turned on the lights, settled into my red swivel chair, opened up my computer, and I read a few headlines. I picked up my Bible to try to make sense of a difficult passage, responded to a few emails, and walked to the white board to scratch out a few thoughts. Occasionally, I stared out the window and let my mind drift. I wondered if I should be doing something that I wasn’t doing. I wondered if what I was doing was making any sort of difference. I glanced at Ren’s Facebook page and wondered if I should be quoting from the books I’m reading on a regular basis so I can improve our presence-whatever that means. This is my routine. This is what awaits me most every morning. It seems so distant from the top of the mountain.
I wonder sometimes why I don’t have more extraordinary moments with God. It seems like a whole lot of my life, my Christian life, is rather ordinary. For the longest time I thought this was a problem. Now I’m not so sure. I’m not so sure that life with God isn’t lived in the mundane, ordinary moments of life. I’m wondering if the constant call to do something radically, awe-inspiring for God isn’t taking a toll on my own soul.
When I lived in Dallas my grandma came to visit me. We went with the whole family to the Cheesecake Factory. I love the Cheesecake Factory. I never even liked cheesecake until I discovered the Cheesecake Factory, but during my years in Dallas I learned to love cheesecake. Trust me, it took a toll on my bottom line and waistline. I remember as the family sat around the table I looked up at my grandma and she had a smile on her face. I said, “Grandma, what are you thinking?” She replied, “Oh, this is just such a treat.” It was a treat. When I say it was a treat I mean at one time it was, but it wasn’t anymore. We lived close to the Cheesecake Factory. Close enough to go on a somewhat regular basis. Close enough that it became a non event. It was no longer a treat.
The concert I attended was a treat. It was a treat because it wasn’t typical. It was unusual. It was wonderful, but it wasn’t normal. I’m learning that much of the Christian life is just that—normal. Normal isn’t a Christian cuss word, but I’m afraid it’s often viewed that way. We love spiritual highs. They are unique moments when the always present presence of God is felt and experienced in a unique way. Those are special moments. They should be enjoyed. They are also a treat.
I often experience a spiritual shot in the arm on Sunday morning. It’s a spiritual and emotional high. I can’t explain it. There is the pressure of handling the word of God well. There is an ongoing battle with nerves that are experienced with public speaking-regardless of how long you’ve been doing it. There is the hope that something that is said will make some sort of difference, or at the very least make sense. It’s nerve-wracking, gut-wrenching, and absolutely exhilarating all at the same time. It also doesn’t last. It’s 40 minutes on a Sunday morning. Then it’s over. Then I usually go out to eat and as my children are crawling under the table I wonder why. Then I go home and sometimes help put a tired two year-old down for a nap. Then I watch a football game. Then I help make sure homework is done. Then I wonder why I’m so tired. Then I think about dinner. Then I wonder, How long before bed?
The ordinary moments of life seem just that—ordinary. Nevertheless, the vast majority of my days are spent doing the mundane. I’m trying to learn what it looks like to walk with God in those moments. I don’t have it all figured out, but I’m learning. I’m learning that the Cheesecake Factory is a treat, but I don’t live there.