The nice thing about ordinary life is that there’s so much of it. It’s all around us, all the time, so if we can actually learn to like it, we’re home free. We’ll never lack for anything ever again. We’ll have something the Bible refers to as “great gain” and puts in the same category as godliness: contentment (1 Tim. 6:6).
We have this expression “living life to the full.” But how can we live life to the full when life is, apparently, so full of mundane moments and plain things and unremarkable events? Happiness is only possible in the present moment, yet the overwhelming majority of our moments are utterly ordinary. Therefore, if we want to be happy, we must learn to love the ordinary. It’s good to have lofty dreams and aspirations, but if we let future goals so control us that they overshadow our present reality, we will not be happy.
The reason it is so vital for believers to focus on the ordinary is that the spiritual life cannot be understood in extraordinary terms. Who was looking for the Messiah to be born as a baby in a manger? Or who could have expected that He would die the common death of a criminal? On the lookout for the extraordinary, we miss the hand of God.
Not many people are killed by lightning.
Zac’s mother was.
Zachary Sparks, though small for ten years old, had a look of perpetual astonishment that made him seem larger than life. His eyes were nearly the biggest part of him, round and wide, and his eyebrows had a natural arch as if held up with invisible strings. His voice was high and excitable and his whole body seemed full of little springs. Even his hair, fiery red and frizzy, looked as if he was the one hit by lightning. Everything about Zac Sparks was up, up, up.
A marriage, or a marriage partner, may be compared to a great tree growing right up through the center of one’s living room. It is just there, and it is huge, and everything has been built around it, and wherever one happens to be going––to the fridge, to bed, to the bathroom, or out the front door––the tree has to be taken into account. It cannot be gone through; it must respectfully be gone around. It is somehow bigger and stronger than oneself. True, it could be chopped down, but not without tearing the house apart. And certainly it is beautiful, unique, exotic; but also, let’s face it, it is at times an enormous inconvenience.
Interview with Mike about Champagne for the Soul
(The interviewer is Rosanne Farnden Lyster of InCourage magazine.)
“Happiness has not been my strong suit, which is why I needed to experiment with joy.” So writes Mike Mason in the introduction to his book Champagne for the Soul. In October of 1999 Mason began an unusual experiment. The best selling Canadian author of The Mystery of Marriage, and a man who confesses to having experienced a good deal of moodiness and depression in his life, decided to be deliberately joyful in the Lord for a full 90 days. The idea itself bloomed out of tragedy, but led to a renewed Mike Mason and a book that chronicles the wandering of one man into joy. Mason spoke with InCourage about what joy is, and isn’t, and how you and I can also dwell in joy.
Mike Mason thinks different.
Different than me, anyhow. To clarify the degree of difference, I once asked him what would be his favourite way to spend an hour. “To sit and contemplate a tree.” I don’t remember what my response would have been to that question at that time, but if it involved trees, it would have been something more along the lines of climbing them or building a tree fort. Certainly nothing involving contemplation.
Excerpt from Adventures in Heaven
Once I’d met my Heavenly Father on His throne and fulfilled some assignments, He asked if I’d like to come back and spend an entire day in the throne room. At the time I happened to be swamped in guilt and self-pity, and it astounded me that God would issue such an invitation to a creature in this sorry state. But of course I jumped at the chance. Wouldn’t you?
Excerpt from Champagne for the Soul
A few years ago I began a ninety-day experiment in joy. I made up my mind that for the next ninety days I would be joyful in the Lord. Because this was an experiment, it allowed room for failure. If at times I wasn’t joyful, I wouldn’t despair or beat myself up. Rather I would gently, persistently return as best I could to my focus on joy.