Thursday, October 23, 2014

Choosing The Extraordinary Path

“There are no extraordinary men... just extraordinary circumstances that ordinary men are forced to deal with.” ~William Halsey, fleet Admiral and South Pacific commander during World War II

When was the last time you walked along the beach, sand squishing beneath your feet, and waves crashing on the shore and over your ankles?

I discovered something last week while walking along the beach looking for shells and again later while I lounged in my beach chair and watched folks pass by. Almost no one could resist picking up a shell that caught their eye. Why do we do this? Is there anything extraordinary about sea shells?

I’ve collected scores of shells over the past forty years, so this trip I decided only to collect extraordinary shells. How did I define extraordinary? They had to have a twist or curl, much like large conch shells. If it didn’t have a twist, there had to be some other extraordinary feature to justify keeping it. 

"fan" and "duck feet" shells
No ordinary “fan” or “duck feet” shells to join the hundreds of the same I already have.

my extraordinary collection
I’ll be honest. Part of my motive was to reduce the number of shells I took home. I had fun watching the waves roll in and recede, then checking to see what was left behind.

As fun as this was, I saw the parallel to how many of us live our lives. It’s not as though we choose the ordinary. Rather, it chooses us, and we ride along with it.

When was the last time you chose the path that led to the extraordinary challenge, even as you lived an ordinary life?

It may sound like a contradiction, but when you look to Biblical examples, like Christ, you find ordinary men whose chose the extraordinary path and seized opportunities God placed before them.

“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say.” Acts 4:13-14

Jesus’s life had purpose, and he didn’t waste time. On the surface, he did ordinary things every day, but when you dig deeper, he had many divine appointments, such as meeting the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4) and raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11). Both could be characterized as extraordinary.

Mother Teresa lived simply, reportedly possessing only two sets of clothing. Her daily life was no doubt filled with necessary, mundane chores, yet her service to poverty-stricken orphans in India reflected extraordinary service to the “least of these” (Matthew 25:31-45). 

As I collected shells, I thought about how often we settle for ordinary because we’re too scared or too set in our ways to strive for the extraordinary. Or perhaps we believe, especially in some Christian circles, we don’t deserve better or only those blessed with extraordinary talents or calling should be in this realm. In doing so, we often get trapped by the ordinary day-to-day time wasters like television, social media, or games. Do you know how often I get “friend requests” to play games on Facebook? It boggles my mind.

I'm not discounting the fact we all need downtime. I loved my time at the beach. It rejuvenated my exhausted mind and body. I’m also not talking about acquiring the “best life now” as promoted by certain prosperity preachers. Trials are a significant part of our earthly lives, as is the routine day-to-day work or chores we must do. I’m referring to listening for God’s plan of extraordinary work, divine appointments, and opportunities to minister and be His vessel while walking the ordinary path.

Let’s not waste time focusing on the mundane when God calls us to extraordinary tasks. When's the last time you listened for His call? Have the courage to ask what He wants for your life, and then be willing to follow through, no matter how challenging the path looks.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 


I’m excited to announce the release of my Christmas novella on November 6. I’ll share the link to A Christmas Chance when it becomes available on Meanwhile, watch for opportunities to win a free copy! If you’re not linked with me on Twitter, please consider doing so @ Laura_Poole.

If you’d like prayer for a particular need, please leave a comment or e-mail me confidential requests. I’d love to pray for you! J

God bless,

©Laura Hodges Poole