God trains us in the ordinary for the extra-ordinary’
When I was in year 10 at school a favourite teacher of mine (who I got on with really well) managed to convince me that the best club to be a part of at school was the long distance running club which he, coincidentally, was also the leader of. So every Tuesday after school I would change into my PE kit and meet this teacher and the small group of student runners just outside the school gates. At that age, when you’re pretty active anyway, three miles isn’t too bad. However , I was by far the youngest of the group with all the rest being in upper sixth, which meant that they had much bigger legs and much bigger lungs!
The pace was always fast and relentless. The only way I managed to keep going and finish was a phrase I heard a famous athlete once say, “The pain is only temporary, but giving up lasts forever”. So over and over I had to keep reminding myself, “Come on Simon! I know it hurts, but when you finish the pain will be gone and all that will be left is the memory of whether you finished, or gave up”. At first I often gave up, but after a while I finished more and more runs, not because my body was getting fitter, but because my mind was. I was learning endurance.
Looking back, I sometimes wonder if God was preparing me for a future I didn’t realise was coming. There have been a number of times since committing my life to Jesus ten years ago that the skill of endurance I learnt in the ‘ordinary times’, pounding the streets after school, has enabled me to keep going in the ‘extra-ordinary times’ loving others and serving Jesus in the places he’s called me to go.
In the Bible, we read of David, who as young boy, tells the king how the skills and knowledge of God he has learned in the ‘ordinary times’ tending his flock, equip him with the knowledge that he doesn’t need to fear Goliath because “The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!”
(1 Samuel 17 v37).
Let’s take comfort in the knowledge that as we stay faithful to God in the ‘ordinary’, boring or difficult times, our God who loves us has a plan for equipping us to do the ‘extra-ordinary’ in his name, place, and time.
Simon (10-14s youth minister)