After all these years, I finally figured something out. I tend to have a romanticized view of life. Here’s what it looks like: Life is always better somewhere else—a better job, a better house, a better car, a better spouse. (Not that I’ve ever experienced the last of that list, but I know others who have.)
Romanticism is debilitating, because it never finds God in the ordinary. We struggle with seeing how we could possibly serve God in the boring, daily routine of getting up, eating food, going to work, coming home, eating more food, and going to bed, only to get up and start all over again the next day.
Romanticism is never sustainable. Just ask Brad and Angelina or any of us who have tried to perpetuate the waves of romantic highs. The tide comes in, and the tide goes out. Blessed be the name of the Lord. When the tide goes out—and our emotions with it—we find ourselves shifting down from romanticism to resignation. “I’ll never love again.” “This is my lot in life.” “Mine is a hopeless situation.”
When we always seek the extraordinary, we wake up in the ordinary and resign ourselves to a gray existence. Romanticism and resignation are all-or-nothing thinking. Every day is either blue skies or gray and dreary.
But there’s a better way. Jesus calls us to Romantic Realism. God does show up at times in extraordinary ways, but He is also there in ordinary moments of every day life. He moved through the judges and prophets of old, but He also used a widow and little boy to teach us lessons of deep faith (Mark 12:43; John 6:9).
Romantic Realism gives us fresh eyes to see the world around us, in all of its brokenness and pain, as a place where fresh flowers still bloom and the sun still shines. Here we find contentment while we still long for “a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:16).
So, as Zack Eswine once wrote,
“If you are wearing yourself out trying to be and do more than this, Jesus is calling you to stop all this tramping about and come finally home. The great work to be done is right in front of you with the persons and places that his providence has granted you. For me, this means reading the Webster-Kirkwood Times or the St. Louis Post Dispatch, when it sounds much more sexy and feels much more important to read the New York Times or USA Today. I can read the former without the latter but not the other way around, because here is where he has called me. Here is where he is working. Here is my past, my place, my life, his glory” (The Imperfect Pastor, 249).
And now let us not miss the current moment because we long for moments yet to come. Join me in celebrating the God of the ordinary who also specializes in doing the extraordinary.