“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” - Galatians 6:9
When I was a teenager, growing in my relationship with God, all I wanted was to do something “big” for Him. I wanted to change the world. Part of this desire was the overflow of a sincere love for the Lord, but part of it was the response to the language that was all around me—the need to see a huge move of God, the call to lay down your life and do something great for the kingdom, the urgency to make a difference.
To be clear, there is nothing wrong with any of those words, concepts, or longings. I love when God moves! I love the stories of times He has poured out His spirit in unique and unusual ways, and entire regions or cities were transformed. I respect people who have taken tremendous risks in order to reach others with God’s love, and I am so encouraged to hear about the ways God honors their sacrifices. I still want to make a difference; if you love people, I don’t think you can help having that desire.
But as I get a little bit older—and hopefully, a little bit wiser—I recognize more and more the value of everyday, ordinary faithfulness. Most “great” things don’t just suddenly happen; instead, they are the result of one step at a time, one day at a time.
In the Bible, we are only given brief glimpses into the lives of men and women of faith; as a result, we only really get the highlights and the climaxes. Think of Abraham, leaving behind everything he’d known in Ur to follow God on a journey into the unknown. We are given a few key stories about his encounters with God and a handful of other life events. But how many days were spent just walking? How many days were spent pitching tents and tending flocks and waiting for further instructions? How often was he tempted to stay put or maybe even to turn back? He had to choose faithfulness one ordinary day at a time.
Abraham is not alone. Joseph spent all those years in prison, choosing character and integrity, even when it likely seemed futile. David had many years learning leadership and humility between the time he was anointed as king and the time when he actually became king. Esther was married to Xerxes for a long time before she began to see why God had brought her to the position of queen in a foreign land.
Even in Jesus’ time on earth, we are only given the highlights of His ministry. But in all those years before He was publicly launched and even during the time He was actively ministering, He was choosing to be faithful to the will of the Father one day at a time.
When we merely have to flip over a few a pages to get from one major event to the next, it is easy to forget about the mundane passage of time. We tend to refer to the men and women of Scripture as “heroes of the faith,” but they would probably be surprised to hear themselves labelled in such a way. They were men and women who had to choose faith and trust day by day. They had to deal with the voices of fear and doubt and decide if they would listen to them. They failed and got back up again. They did the best they could to live according to the reality of who God was in their lives. And from the place of ordinary faithfulness, God birthed extraordinary things.
We tend to think of God using us or doing something great through us as a big, glamorous thing, but in reality, much of our spiritual journey is a steadfast walk by faith, not by sight. It is about being consistent and trustworthy with the little things—and I have a feeling that many of those “little” things will turn out to be a lot more significant than we thought once we get to view them through the lens of eternity.
Perhaps some of you have been feeling discouraged or even disappointed. Maybe you thought your life would look a lot different than it does. You might have longed to do something really significant, and you are wondering if you did something wrong or missed your chance. But don’t miss the glory of what God is doing right in front of you because you are expecting it to look a certain way.
Are you loving people? Are you striving to work with integrity and honesty? Are you serving others? Are you being a dependable friend? Are you walking in humility? Are you doing your best to walk in reconciliation? Are you choosing contentment and gratitude in a world driven by greed and selfish ambition? Most importantly, are you building a life based on who God says He is and what He promises? And on the days when you don’t do these things as well as you would like to, are you getting back up and trying again?
Then you are doing something significant for God’s kingdom, and you are making a difference. It makes a difference to the people you encounter every day when you do your best to reflect God’s heart in your words and actions, even if you do not realize or see the eternal work taking place.
To the faithful, God shows Himself faithful (Ps. 18:25). He looks to strengthen the hearts of those who are fully committed to Him (2 Chron. 16:9). He sees you, even when it feels like no one else does. Don’t lose heart. Keep choosing Him one ordinary day at a time, and trust that He will use your faithfulness in extraordinary ways.