The Lord never holds before us an ordinary, mundane, merely okay, or satisfactory life. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). An abundant life overflows with God’s presence; it overflows with His love, joy, peace, hope, blessings, power.
—Charles F. Stanley, How to Reach Your Full Potential for God
In the United States, we usually follow Nice to meet you with What do you do? as if our personhood could somehow be summed up by employment status or achievement. How long have we been hearing this exchange, and how much pressure has it added to the notion of fulfilling work? But elsewhere in the world, there’s more space between introductions and resumes, and with it an understanding that work is merely a necessity. When we pause to consider all the men and women on earth from one culture and socioeconomic status to another, it’s clear that for most people, work is a means to an end. Whether it satisfies is a luxurious, Western idea.
This is how I came to distort Jesus’ promise of abundance, picturing it as a comfortable level of wealth, fulfilling jobs, and big adventures. But the older I get and the further I wade into my career, the more pronounced the question Is this it? becomes. When I view my daily life the way I would an exhibition in a museum, I see myself pulling the comforter taut on the mattress, reading emails, chopping onions, and opening the mail. What are my days if not ordinary—mundane, even?
When we pause to consider all the men and women on earth from one culture and socioeconomic status to another, it’s clear that for most people, work is a means to an end. Whether it satisfies is a luxurious, Western idea.
Throughout His ministry, Jesus pointed out that much of what believers navigate in life comes in pairs: Those who mourn receive comfort; the hungry are satisfied; the merciful receive mercy; and the first will be last (and the last, first). Should we be surprised that Jesus also promised our ordinary lives would somehow be extraordinary?
The connections between His paradoxes often slip through my fingers, yet I’ve always believed them. So why not believe this promise, too? Exactly how my everyday routines become an extraordinary life may be a mystery, but that’s an indication to lean on God’s knowing rather than my own. Maybe the abundance comes one day through a moment of rich inner contemplation, filled with His presence. Or perhaps when I’m too distracted, His goodness appears in the loving words of a friend. But whether it’s revealed today or next week or in 20 years, I have faith that in some way unbeknownst to me, the abundance of Jesus exists in the pulling of weeds, the folding of my husband’s socks just the way he likes, and the nestling under a blanket—moments in a seemingly ordinary, everyday life. I won’t stop looking for the Lord’s extraordinary goodness, but whenever it’s not readily apparent, perhaps I’ll remember it’s only hidden. With Him, there’s always more than what my eyes can see.