Recently there has been a lot of talk about the how the push to be “radical” and “missional” discourages ordinary people in ordinary places from doing ordinary things to the glory of God. Renowned college professor and prolific writer Anthony Bradley even coined the term, “The New Legalism” to describe this movement. At one time in their lives, Christine and Adam Jeske could have been the poster children for this emphasis among twenty-something evangelicals. A year after getting married, they took off for Nicaragua to live among the poor. They spent the next decade traveling the world, having adventures and making every day count. Each day was held up to the standard of whether it was amazing or not and most of the time it was.
In their early thirties, the Jeske’s returned to the US to pursue work and further education and start life with their two kids in a country they really did not know anymore. The reality of suburban evangelical living and the busyness that many Americans find normal were almost more than they could bear. Daily life was no longer so amazing and this book was the result of their struggle to “settle down without settling”. I have found it particularly refreshing to read their candid accounts of learning to see the extraordinary in the ordinary routines of every day life. The following is one of my favorite excerpts from the book so far and is from a chapter called Faith Muscles written by Christine:
“…I wondered why we adults still find it so difficult to get moving in life. Whenever I looked back over my lists of prayers from past years, I would always find requests that remained unanswered for years. Did God just forget those prayers? What about the famous Bible verse about “ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find (Matthew 7:7)? I found it hard to believe that God would leave people in such stagnant waters for for so long without a single opportunity to move toward the good dreams people claimed to most desire. I knew people with all the skills and ambitions to start their own businesses, who never worked up the courage to begin. I knew people who left church over some spat and meant to find a new one but never tried for so long that they could scarcely remember what it felt like to get out of bed before ten o’clock on a Sunday morning. I knew people nursing grudges, wishing for a spouse, growing disillusioned with their career paths. In my own life I saw goals that seemed so huge that I had defaulted to doing nothing. I wondered how many times people missed on-ramps to a better future because they did not really ask and seek, or because they didn’t like what they heard and found. Sometimes the road God leads us on looks steep and overgrown. We worry that we’ll get lost or pricked or dirty or pass some No Trespassing sign, when really the path is waiting to be enjoyed.”
As we American evangelicals continue to pursue radical and missional lives, I hope more and more of us will not simply assume that it can only be achieved by full time Christian professionals or people that move overseas to serve God. More importantly, I pray that we will not let these God inspired ideas of responding to the call of the gospel to lead a transformational life atrophy in the face of every day life. As we embrace the ordinary miracles that happen all the time and learn to see God at work in every aspect of our existence, we can have amazing days even if all we are doing is washing dishes and going to soccer games with our kids.