Extraordinary in the Ordinary

It is really easy, most of the time, at least, to see God in the big things in life. We see Him in the birth of a child. We see Him in the natural disasters and the storms. We remember His power and control over everything when we see diseases take hold of people and viruses take over nations.

We look for Him in the mountains and in the sky during a sunrise or sunset. In everything that is big and powerful, we can say that God was there and in control. However, we forget a lot that God is here with us every second of every day. We forget that we should be looking for God in the “simple” and ordinary things in life.

There is a song called “Hymn of Creation” by Dan Forrest that really captures this truth. You may know this song since it is one that Covenant Christian High School Choirs sang in 2019. The song starts off by talking about how God made the mountains rise, how He spread the seas, and created the sky. It goes on to talk about God’s wisdom in the sun, the moon, and the stars. It lists many of the “big” or extraordinary things of this world, sights that make us catch our breath.

Then the song shifts and starts to talk about the smaller details. The details in which we do not always remember God when we see them. It lists the food that we eat and the creatures that inhabit the earth. It says that no matter where I look I can see God’s wonders – even if it is just at the ground we walk upon.

My favorite line from this song is, “while all that borrows life from Thee is ever in Thy care, and ev’ry where that man can be, Thou, God art present there”. This line reminds us that God is keeping us alive. He is making our hearts to beat and our lungs to breathe and that without Him we would not be here. It reminds us that God is everywhere and not just in those big sights and big moments in life. We need to be reminded that we have to look for and see God in the ordinary, in the things we take for granted.

God’s glory is displayed everywhere, and we can see it everywhere if we just take the time to look. Our lungs breathing, our heart beating, the sun rising, and so much more we take for granted and see as ordinary. But once we start noticing God in everything, including the ordinary, we will start to see everything as extraordinary and that God’s glory is displayed in millions of ways. We will start to thank God and glorify Him for everything.

This is something we should be doing already, but it is easy to get swept up in the world and forget God and everything He has done and is doing for us. This is our old man, our fallen human nature coming into play. Forgetting God is what the devil wants us to do. He cheers everytime we go through a day without thanking God and glorifying Him for anything and everything.

Making a conscious effort, by God’s grace, to do this every day makes every day more enjoyable. Looking for God in everything and seeing all that He has done and continues to do for us makes it easier to be in a good and happy mood. It also helps in prayer and devotions. We have a list of things to be thankful for and can talk to God throughout the day giving thanks for everything. This can really help strengthen our relationship with God.

I struggle with this too, but this song reminds me—and hopefully others—to see God in everything no matter how ordinary. It reminds me to give thanks and glorify God for more than just the big things in life. It reminds me that God is with me all the time. It reminds me to see the extraordinary in the ordinary.

(click here to listen to “Hymn of Creation”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZR3NphPrZt4)

Brittany Bylsma

Is Asking God “Why” Ok?

I grew up with the mindset that asking God “why?” was wrong and that it made me a bad Christian for asking. I found out recently that my brother holds the same view that I used to. Somehow the conversation came up when, as a family, we were sitting around the dinner table one Sunday. My parents were saying that asking God “why?” was fine as long as you are respectful. My brother was arguing that we should not ask God that question because it shows doubt towards God. I piped up a little in favor of my brother but mostly sat in silence since I was caught up in my own thoughts.

As I thought more on this topic, I realized that my brother and I both held to this view based on what we were taught in school. Throughout our schooling we were taught, whether through it actually being said or simply implied, that asking God “why?” is wrong because it shows your distrust in God, and it shows you doubting Him.

I now believe that asking God this question is perfectly fine. I think that people can believe either view of this question, it just depends on whether a person is asking this out of doubt or out of a humble desire to understand. I do not think that asking God “why?” is wrong in all cases.

As someone who has gone through trials and is still going through trials and, like everyone else, will go through many more trials as I go through this life in a sinful world, I think we need to make this a more common question that is ok to ask. Before I came to this conclusion, I would find myself asking “why?” to God and then immediately feeling like I had sinned and that I was a horrible Christian for asking. This made me less inclined to talk to God in prayer and come to Him with my questions and concerns. As a result of this, among other things, my spiritual life became non-existent.

In one of my college classes last semester, there was actually a guy who did a presentation on why it was wrong to ask God “why?”. This made me feel even worse as I resolved never to ask God that question again. However, recently I came across a certain song that really hit home for me. The song is called “Why God” by Austin French. I listened to the official music video and in the beginning, French is explaining that he felt like a bad Christian when he asked that question when his father was dying. He felt like he was not allowed to ask that. But then, he says, he became a dad and his son started asking those “why” questions. And through this God showed him that He is not afraid of our hard questions; and that asking “why God?” did not make him a bad Christian. Instead, it made him a kid. God is our Father; we are His children.

I believe that it was God that placed this song right where it needed to be so that I found it. It was exactly what I needed to hear in a really important time in my life.

I believe it is perfectly fine to ask God “why?” It does not show that we are doubting Him. It shows that we are having trouble understanding our situation or circumstances and that we really do want to understand. It shows God that we see Him as a Father whom we can go to with our questions and concerns no matter how difficult they might be. God is our Father, and we are His children. Ask Him “why?” and listen for the answer.

 

Brittany Bylsma

Light Within Light

Another Friday night is in the books. The ladies are hugging; the bros are bro-fiving, and everyone is taking off from the man cave to sneak in before curfew – maybe one or two minutes after curfew. As your favorite group of people disappear into the black, chilly evening, you head back inside, and your thoughts begin to race about how you rocked as a host and how perfect the hangout went. The night started with some pizza, transitioned into catch phrase, and ended with everyone taking out their flashlights and shining them around the well-lit room. You couldn’t have imagined a more perfect nigh…. Wait. What?

Shining your flashlight in a well-lit room – this might not be everyone’s favorite activity, but it definitely cracks the top five. And WHEW! We sure are good at it. There’s nothing quite like having a nice, cozy, warm, bright room to shine a flashlight in! Or put a spotlight in… or light a candle in… Oh, now I see where this is going.

Light is something that humans are naturally drawn towards. Whether it’s at the end of a tunnel or the lamp in our living rooms, light is something that people constantly want to be surrounded by. It feels kind of nice sitting next to a fire on a cloudy, autumn night. But what if the fire went out? Suddenly things are not so nice anymore, and our instincts scramble for anything else that might be able to give us some clarity – some form of illumination to give us comfort. Because you see, by nature, we’re all scared of the dark. And there is only one cure for that.

Christian living in the church community really is not all that hard all the time. Learning about God in all of the subject areas is followed by catechism, which is followed by hanging out with school friends, which takes us all the way through the week until it’s time to straighten our ties and curl our hair on Sunday morning. This schedule of life is fantastic. Living a life of holiness is seldom even mentioned because that’s just what we do; it is part of the schedule. It is part of the routine. Everybody’s flashlights are on, and everything is 20/20.

Now it’s graduation. Next thing you know, you are nailing trim at the jobsite, or booking your basic classes to get college started. You still get to see your Christian high school friends a couple times a week. And when you do, the conversations are mature: often talking about life goals, your developing roles in the church body, and other wholesome things. You can almost feel yourself growing into an adult – ready for anything. That light is on full blast in an already bright room.

Then you hop in the car the next morning and go where you need to go. No longer are your childhood friends around – instead replaced with coworkers and fellow college kids. The conversations here are much different than what you’re used to. There are jokes about sex, some swearing, and more than a few bad habits to indulge in. Suddenly, everything grows very dark. The holy conversations that you participate in with your church friends are not taking place here. It’s not high school anymore. The calendar is marked a year ahead, and that schedule of life that we used to enjoy is no longer an expected routine. That warm, comfy fire is extinguished. We cannot see clearly anymore. Sure, there’s a flashlight on your phone you could use. But the pitch black isn’t so bad. And besides, you only use the flashlight when it’s bright outside.

Wait. What? In the midst of blinding darkness, we keep the light off. And we only switch it on once things start to brighten up again? You’re right. It doesn’t make any sense. So then why are we doing it?

The calling for Christians to live a life of holiness is a difficult task. But while people stand in the midst of their Christian circles, with encouragement and aid on every side, it is made significantly easier. This fact is a huge positive. The communion of the saints is a great benefit in the life of a believer. As we stand in the midst of the church, we grow in our knowledge of God, allowing us to experience a fuller relationship with Him. And as we strive for holiness, we are able to see the examples of church members around us that help push us in this calling to fight against sin and to put on righteousness. By nature, we enjoy being in the midst of this light, as we should. We soak it up. We grow from it. And we are better because of it.

But when the lights around us disappear, what happens to our light? Do we keep it on and let it guide us through situations that tempt us to sin? Even more importantly, do we keep it on in the hopes that another in the darkness might see it and follow it as well? Or do we blend into the blackness? Do we allow the sin around us to scare us into extinguishing that light? Or even worse yet, do we become of a part of and enjoy the darkness for a time when no other lights can be seen?

Going along with the world is an easy thing to do. Parties are fun. Swear words flow easily off of our tongues. Getting buzzed is addicting. And what’s worse is that keeping these things in the darkness is easy to do while still maintaining a resemblance of light. While we prefer to be in the light, it does not take long for our eyes to adjust to the dark. While it’s still a pitch-black night, we can begin to make out the shapes of objects in the darkness. While things may appear to be brightening, it is only making us more prepared to justify growing comfortable with and living in the darkness. We must not allow ourselves to adjust to the dark.

In the calling to witness, it is so important that people in the world take notice that we are different. Fitting in is easy. If a coworker cracks perverted jokes, it would be easy to laugh, and respond with another one. Hitting up a party is a quick way to get to know college kids. But if we turn off our lights to fit in with people in the world, then we are turning off our desire to live a holy life, and quitting our job as Christians to be an example of Christ in pure living.

Adding more light to a well-lit situation has never hurt anything. But one might also argue that it is not living up to its full potential. There is a need for a blinding light that helps others see their way out of the incapacitating darkness. There is a need to be an example of holiness that others can latch on to as they seek to develop a closer relationship with God. Let us be the city on a hill; an example to others that will not be hid.

Philippians 2:14-16: “Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.”

Trent Hordyk