My life is so very ordinary.
But I’m convinced more and more that that is where the good stuff happens—right in the middle of ordinary. Our lives are not comprised of a few monumental things, but rather millions of seemingly inconsequential, ordinary things that together make a whole.
I have had this voice playing on repeat in my mind. It whispers, “You were saved to save others.”
Those were the words of a great man who impacted the Kingdom much.
“You were saved to save others.”
That is the first thing he would say to new believers as he raised them from the waters of baptism.
I don’t know for sure how many people this particular man shared the gospel with. I do know that his life was very ORDINARY, just as mine is.
I said he was a great man and rightly so.
He was not “great” in the eyes of the world. Honestly, from the world's view, he was not even noteworthy.
He had a humble but welcoming home. He led a humble life. You will not read his story in the records of the renowned (unless you were fortunate enough to have received and preserved his memoirs).
Now think of the people you love best. Think of the people who have invested in you heart and soul. Were they the most beautiful? Were they the most intelligent, the thinnest, the richest?
I’m guessing, with confidence, that they were not all of those things and possibly not any of them. They are the ordinary people, the people just living their lives; but as they go, they love, they bless, they encourage. They restore your faith in humanity.
That’s the good stuff. It’s in the everyday doing.
In my run-of-the-mill life, I have many tasks that really must be taken care of (just as everyone else does). I know I need to do these things to care for my family, and I gladly (most of the time) do them. My life takes me to the most unremarkable places: the grocery store (a lot!), the gas station, swimming lessons, Latin class, coffee shops, department stores—all very average indeed.
Of course there is glitter and there is excitement, but I don’t want to talk about those places today.
I’m finding all the more that the life-changing, soul-growing moments are wrapped in the simple grocery-bag-brown kind of paper. It’s not the eye-catching, overpriced, shiny kind of stuff we are all drawn to.
It’s the plain, unadorned, garden-variety things that change me.
I was at the gas station the other day with my daughter. Obviously we needed gas. She wanted to do the pumping, and I was walking her through it. We were at one of those new kinds of pumps that require your shopper’s card, zip code, date of birth, social security number, and all the other intimate details of your life.
It was taking a while to teach her how to complete this menial chore.
There was an anxious-looking girl right next to us. Her eyes were darting all around at everyone pumping gas. I was trying to ignore her. She was standing in front of a gas pump, but she wasn’t pumping. She was just standing, staring.
Now, of course my immediate reaction was, “WEIRD. Why is this girl acting so weird?”
Finally, and amazingly, we completed our lesson on gas pumping; and we were getting back into the car. This desperate girl knew she had to speak up if she was going to get our attention before we left. She approached us with tears in her eyes and a shaking voice. The gist of it is that she had no money and she had no gas. She was looking around for the most approachable- looking person, I assume—or maybe just the closest. She quickly explained her situation and asked if I would buy her some gas.
You all know the stranger/danger, right? We have been programmed to assume everyone is trying to scam us, rob us, or hurt us. Unfortunately, that is too often the case.
I didn’t have any cash (of course), so I had to go run my check card. I asked her if five dollars would get her where she was going, and she said yes. I ran my card. She pumped five measly bucks of gas and thanked me through her tears. When she thanked me, I didn’t know what to say; so I said, “We do try to love people.”
Now the weird-acting girl at the gas station is looking at me like I’m the weird-acting girl at the gas station.
As she drove away in her tattered car, I had one main emotion:
Why didn’t I fill her tank up for her? What could I have sacrificed so I could have really blessed her instead of barely getting her by?
I tell her that we try to love people, and then I give her five bucks?! We are by no means well off, but come on—five bucks?
All of these assumptions were running through my mind:
She’s probably just taking advantage of us.
Maybe she does this all the time.
Obviously she doesn’t make very good life choices if she’s crying at a gas station in a piece of junk car.
I hate that. I hate the fear of the “what ifs. . .”
I hate it, but I do it. (I’m working on it.)
I don’t care if she makes bad choices and that’s what's landed her in that position. Well, that’s not true. I DO care, but not for the wrong reasons.
There was a girl crying at the gas station, and I had a chance to offer abundant compassion; I failed. I’m not saying that I’m obligated to do more, but I want to.
I just dropped a boat load of cash at the grocery store and wasn’t feeling overly wealthy (or generous). I was caught off guard. I live in this serene little town where people don’t normally approach me to solicit money.
See? I have all the right excuses.
If I could go back to that moment, to that gas station, to that girl (I can’t even remember what she looked like), I would do things differently.
I would fill her car to the brim with gas. We would do without eating out or some other thing that means nothing in the long run.
I would ask her if she knew her Savior.
I would listen to her story AND take the time to really care.
I always say ,“Love is in the doing,” but I seem to be a slow learner in the implementation department.
That begging girl at the gas station impacted my life much more than I impacted hers.
I am thankful to her for that.
I still feel the lingering regret of a missed opportunity.
I want my eyes to be opened to hurting people, and I want to back up my convictions with more than words.
“You were saved to save others.”
I’m not saying I could have “saved” this random girl, but I sure do wish I would have tried.
I want to be bold—not for my own sake, but for the sake of others.
I want to really grasp (and hold onto) the fact that I have what a hurting world needs. It wasn’t a full tank of gas that would have changed her life. Her car would have just run out of gas again, all too soon. What she needed most were words of encouragement, words founded in truth—a hope that tomorrow would be better. She needed the gospel that is close to the broken hearted.
I want to use my ordinary life to do great things for the Kingdom of God.
I want to love as I go. I want to leave my little world a bit more hopeful than it was before.
I am thankful for the ordinary.
I am thankful for the lesson learned at a gas pump and hopeful that it was not taught in vain.
That poor girl thinks I did her a favor. The fact is, she did more for me than I did for her.
If you are reading this, go out and love people. Look around for the broken hearted. They are easy to find. Give of yourself, expecting nothing in return.
I know that when I remember to be intentional in doing these things, the blessing is all mine.
I was saved to save others.
Thanks for reading my heart,