Ordinary Times

In the liturgical calendar, the year is marked by holy days, special seasons and, my favorite, ordinary times. These are the days when, though nothing significant is being observed, our lives are still “ordered”—purposeful, intentional, meaningful. Although Advent and Lenten seasons prompt special meditation, and holy days like Christmas and Easter invite us to deeper reflection and celebrations, the most significant encounters I have had with God have been amid the “ordinary times” of my life.

We see this experience to be common in Scripture. It was on an ordinary day, as Rachel (Genesis 29:1-15) went about the usual, intentional things of regular life as a shepherdess, that Jacob met her at the well. In the routine process of watering the herd, God began to unfold His very extraordinary plan for her life.

Anna was an old widow who served as a prophetess at the temple. Her regular routine was to worship, fast and pray—day and night. But on one ordinary day, as she began her usual practices, she looked up to see the infant Jesus. Filled with praise and thanksgiving, she began to “speak of him to all who were waiting for redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38 ESV).

We don’t know the name of man who was possessed by a demon and lived among the tombs in the country of the Gerasenes (Mark 5). But we do know his ordinary life was filled with loneliness, suffering and torment. Naked and isolated, feared by everyone, neglected by all, his days passed by wandering the cemetery alone. On one of those very usual days, Jesus crossed the sea and landed on his shore. Upon meeting Jesus, the man was delivered and soon was sitting, “clothed and in his right mind.” Forever changed, the man was restored to his family and community.

What do your ordinary days look like? Changing diapers? Going to a lackluster job? Dealing with difficult people? Managing pain?

Luke 16:10a records Jesus' reminder that, "If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones…" It is in going about our daily lives with faithfulness, honesty and humility that God often reveals to us His larger plan. And while holy days and special seasons give us occasions to encounter God in fresh ways, we may find that it is in the midst of regular days that our lives are “ordered” by the presence of God. In the ordinary times God is there, revealing His will, giving us words of encouragement and worship, delivering us from evil. And perhaps the deeper reality is that as we become increasingly aware of His abiding love, no day is really ever ordinary after all.

Carol Dowsett is a career missionary with Wycliffe Bible Translators and a professional communications consultant, having worked for nearly 25 years in global communication leadership roles. She has served with agencies such as Wycliffe International, SIL International, Forum of Bible Agencies International, Bible League International, Christar, and the Well Community. She is a frequent teacher of Reflective Bible Studies and has been a lay leader of women's discipleship and prayer ministries in various churches. An advocate to the Church for mental health awareness, she has served as a support group leader with Mental Health Grace Alliance. With her family, she lived in Nairobi, Kenya for three years and now makes her home near Dallas, Texas. Married for 45 years, she and Jim have four adult children and six grandchildren.