Recently I read this list in premier magazine. I probably shouldn’t have done. It annoyed me greatly, then made me angry, then made me reflect and think. It’s a list of 33 awesome people under the age of 33 who have done great things for God. It’s an impressive list. These people seem generally to have been used by God to do great things. But it’s hard not to think it’s just buying into celebrity culture, getting us to believe the lie that unless you have achieved x, y or z your life is pretty meaningless and failing to celebrate the ordinary lives that God infuses with meaning and presence.
I want to write an alternative list. My friends are awesome, some people I know of are awesome but live pretty ordinary lives, trying to embrace life with their Maker, getting it wrong, getting it right and generally bumbling through life with all it’s joys and sorrows with a deep conviction that there is more than this.
I love them.
I love my husband and the God who has held him through many twists and turns in life, I love that he was brought into my life and that God has joined us together. I love that he won’t be beaten by past mistakes, that God never let him go in the darkest of times. I love his approach to life, his optimism and grace, his desire to heal broken hearts, his tears when others are hurt, his compassion and love. I love his commitment to seek the good of his school and his desire that people are treated with honesty and integrity. I love and honour him for that.
I love my friend who works hard in a job in London, deeply convinced God has given her a love of economics and she can use that to make a difference to society. I love that she kept on walking through the hideous death of her first husband and was determined to grieve deeply and well. I was deeply impressed with her battles for contentment, adjustment to life single again and then her bravery in seeking out and finding a new husband. I love and honour her for that.
I love my friend who has two children who she, like so many of us, perseveres in loving and supporting on a daily basis. I love her commitment to her friends finding out more about the wonder of our Maker and her prayers and love for her community around her. I love that she is still walking through the mental preschool years and I honour her for that.
I love my friends who still stay single despite the pressures around them because they believe that celibacy is better than compromise, who have to live with churches who value families more than single people and who haven’t given up on God despite the pain of that. I love their wrestling with God and his refusal to let go of them. I love and honour them for that.
I love my brother and wife who cling desperately to believing that God has called them to the path they are walking and depend on him like no one else I know, I love that they are still hanging in there in the mess and pain that this life has brought to them. I love their commitment to helping their children navigate this life well. I love their creatively and passion for people getting the reality of God. I love and honour them for that.
I love my friend who has committed to her friend for life, who is working through what she believes with honesty and integrity and who has been battered too much by people who should have showered love and grace on her instead of creating fences too high to climb over. I love that God won’t let her go and I love that she is facing a new world with him rather than running away from him entirely. I love her honesty and her commitment to her job, I love her perseverance in training for it and following her deep desire for it. I love and honour her for that.
I love those I know who live with long term debilitating conditions that stupid people still claim are still in the mind, who still cling to the reality that God is at work in and through them through the 15 minutes a day they are able to focus on something without pain. I love that their voice is heard and that God is at work in their lives. I love and honour them for that.
I love my parents as they try and be faithful to their church and to reminding people of the reality of God, I love that my Mum is developing and changing and growing as a Spiritual Director, I love that Dad is finding his voice on his theology course, I love that they faithfully loved me and my brother over crazy years, I love that they introduced me to God and he hasn’t let go of them or me yet. I love their ordinary marriage so full of normal ups and downs and that they still hold hands when they walk down the street. I love and honour them for that
These are all people and there are so many more who are living ordinary lives. In remembering them I am reminded that there is no such thing, all are living lives infused by God, they don’t have to be doing 100 amazing things before breakfast or before they are 33 to do that. God is at work.
I’ll leave you with Os Guinness quoting Oswald Chambers being brilliant as ever. Oh that we would celebrate these ways more.
“Repeatedly he hammers home the point that ‘drudgery is the touchstone of character’. We look for the big things to do- Jesus took a towel and washed people’s feet. We presume the place to be is the mountaintop of vision – he sends us back to the valley. We like to speak and act out of the rare moments of inspiration- he requires our obedience in the routine, the unseen and the thankless. Our idea for ourselves is the grand moment and the hushed crowd- his is ordinary things when the footlights are switched off. After all Chambers continued,
‘Walking on water is easy to impulsive pluck, but walking on dry land as a disciple of Jesus Christ is a different thing. Peter walked on the water to go to Jesus, but he followed Him afar off on the land. We do not need the grace of God to stand crises, human nature and pride are sufficient, we can face the strange magnificently; but it does require the supernatural grace of God to live twenty-four hours in every day as a saint, to go through drudgery as a disciple, to live an ordinary, unobserved, ignored existence as a disciple of Jesus. It is inbred in us that we have to do exceptional things for God; but we have not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things, to be holy in mean streets, among mean people, and this is not learned in 5 minutes.’
Your Correspondent, more and more convinced that the Sorting Hat might well have put Jesus in Hufflepuff.