Day 8: Purpose – Are You Living an Ordinary Life?

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Today I want to talk about what it means to be a hero.  And so to start off, I would like to talk about my favorite hero:

My husband.

My hope is that his story will inspire you to pursue your calling as he has inspired me.  This is a long post, but I hope you hang in there to the end because this story is very special to me.

(Please excuse the bragging.  I am his wife, I can’t help it.)

Four years ago, when my husband and I were engaged to be married I wrote this short story for him as a graduation gift from police academy.  I was reminded of it today when I was thinking about the message of this post.

So if it is ok with you, I’d like to share it here.

“There once was a little boy.  Bright young, and innocent, his huge heart was filled with enough courage to take down a house full of evil.  The fierce bite of pain had yet to pierce his heart and his future still was bright and wide with possibility.  Buried deep within the heart of this little boy was a passionate desire.  This desire, as strong and as bright as a raging flame, was the motivation of the boy’s every action.

Day after day he planned and he plotted a way to one day make this desire a reality.  His dream was a dream of glory, of becoming a man of honor and might.  This boy desired more than anything to be what he considered the hero of heroes in life: a crime fighting officer.

As the years went by this little boy became a young man.  All the while he never lost sight of the goal of achieving his dream.  For some reason that he did not quite understand, he felt almost as though the call of policing had been etched upon his soul before the beginning of time.  He dedicated hours upon hours of extreme effort into preparing himself for this chosen field of law enforcement.

As is true of all who walk the journey of life, the time came when this young man had reached the gate that opened into adulthood and closed itself forever upon the beautiful innocence of childhood.  No longer naïve to this world’s pain, no longer inexperienced in the realm of struggle, this young man was now an adult.  Yet although his childish ways had been chiseled away, his boyish dream of becoming a hero had never left his soul.  Humbled and inspired this man now realized that it was the God of the universe who had chosen him to be a protector and a peacemaker.  It was God who had placed that desire in His heart to be a policeman.  And it was God who had prepared this man all these years so that He could use him to carry out His divine plan of providing for His people.

No longer was this man filled with childish dreams of glory and thrill.   It was true that he still longed for adventure.  However, now he knew that there was a purpose behind his divine calling.  It was much more than a job.    It was up to him to look his future straight in the face and bravely overcome whatever might come his way. 

Therefore it was with this knowledge that the man set out to tackle police academy. 

For six long months he poured his mind, body, and soul into the most strenuous training he had ever undertaken.  There were times when he felt so discouraged and overwhelmed he wanted to quit.  However, he persevered, for he knew that he was called.

When the day finally came for his graduation from police academy, he considered with a joyful, triumphant heart the struggles he had overcome and the journey he had taken thus far.  With humble thankfulness he praised the Lord for bringing him so far, and preparing him for whatever might come after this.  For although he had spent years in preparation of this day, he knew that it marked only the beginning of a life of danger.  The trials that he would have to face would only become harder; and the courage and determination required of him would only increase.  Yet he was not afraid.  He was convinced that the same God who had led him through his life ‘til now, would continue to provide for him and keep him safe. 

God also provided this man a woman to love and care for him all the days of his life.  This woman respected and admired her husband more than any other man in the world.  She beamed with pride when she told others of the character of her man, and considered him to be a hero.  No matter what trials she and her husband might have to face due to his chosen profession, she was determined to stand by his side and to help him in any way she could.

Life is a complex weave of joyful and painful events.  This is what makes life an adventure.  Policemen help to give average people peace of mind to go safely through their day.  Not many hear of the dangers that these men go through in order to keep people safe.  They simply go unnoticed.  That is what makes these men heroes. 

This man was determined to praise God for the adventure of life.  He never considered himself a hero; just a simple man with a boyish dream, and a calling from God.  However there are some men that are policemen, and there are some men that are heroes.

This little boy grew up to be both.”

When I re-read this story, I was filled with so much awe over how God has worked in my husband’s life since he graduated police academy!  Little did I know when I wrote this that these words would foreshadow what was to come for us.  Our story was just beginning then and so much has happened since!

I remember the day he graduated.

Both of us were filled with so much hope and anticipation for our future!  We were convinced that after overcoming the challenges of academy, anything was possible!  There was this sense of assurance that all of our plans had and would continue to fall perfectly into place.

We had no idea what was in store for us.

Shortly after our wedding, my husband got hired by our local sheriff’s department as a deputy.  Naturally, we were thrilled!  Not only did this mean that he had a stable career to provide for our new life together, but he had finally attained the goal!  Everything was falling into place. No longer was he just an academy graduate looking for a job.  He was now a real, live policeman.

For a few weeks we reveled in the excitement.  Training seemed to be going well to start, and things were looking positive.

Unfortunately however, the excitement was short lived.  Barely three months into his training period, my sweet husband failed his training and had to resign from the sheriff’s department.

I had never seen him so devastated.  It was such a dark and sad day when he came home and told me the news.  Suddenly, all of the hope and dreams that we had had built for our future seemed to crumble right before us.

For my husband, this loss was not just a job loss; it was the loss of his dream, of a part of his identity.  He had spent his whole life preparing for this one goal, and now in a single day it was gone.

My heart broke as I saw the look of defeat and failure in his eyes.  I didn’t know what to say, so I just held him and told him that it was going to be ok and that I would be there for him no matter what.  Secretly though, I was filled with fear and dread for our future.  What would he do now?  He had only ever had this one dream!  Could it really be that God was not calling him to this life after all?

Four months went by before my husband was able to find another job.  His prior experience was in hospitality, so he easily fell back into the routine of a hotel job.

We continued to spend day after day re-evaluating, praying and seeking council about what he should do with his life now.

What was he good at?  What were his passions?  What things could he see himself doing? 

These were the questions that we asked as we considered his future.  The process was excruciating.

He never lost his desire to go back into law enforcement, but because of his experience at the sheriff’s department we thought that perhaps God wanted him to move in a difference direction.

As time went by, we came up with several options that seemed like decent possibilities to pursue, however none of them ended up working out.

Days turned into months.  Months turned into two years, and God still had not opened any doors outside of hotel jobs for my husband.

This was not the life he imagined.

During this time I got pregnant.  Now, my husband did not just have the two of us to think about, but he had another person to make a life for.

Childhood dreams and divine callings do not seem so practical when faced with the reality of adult responsibilities.  And so my husband started working two jobs.  I was proud of his hard work and so grateful that beyond any other desire; he really just wished to make a good life for us.

Although my husband was making a good income with his two jobs, and I was working full time as well, he still felt the pressure to have a more stable career with the arrival of our baby in sight.

He prayed and prayed and prayed for wisdom and direction, and I prayed right along with him.  Yet we still heard no answers.

Many people advised him to pursue a career in hospitality, since he was skilled and had experience in that field.  He was also encouraged to pursue law, politics, teaching, and other similar occupations; all of which he considered.  When it came right down to it, he was willing to do whatever he had to do in order to provide.

But after all the praying, all the soul searching and all of the re-evaluating, his heart hadn’t changed.  He still was convinced that he was supposed to be a policeman.  So while continuing to work his hotel jobs, he proceeded to apply to dozens and dozens of police departments all across the state.

Time after time he got turned down from his interviews.  Sometimes he didn’t even get an interview.  The departments would see his history of his training at the sheriff’s department, and they would immediately move on to the next candidate.  It was like there was a big black blot on his resume, and no one was willing to give him a chance.

The sense of defeat was heavy between us.  Especially with him.  Most people we knew thought he should move on and let the dream go.

It seems that God is showing you that this isn’t His will for you. 

I think this has become an idol that you aren’t willing to let go. 

Life doesn’t always go according to our plans and you have to be thinking about your family now and planning what’s best for them.

We saw the wisdom, and we knew there was truth to these statements.  God’s plans for our lives are often different than the plans that we have for ourselves, and we must be willing and ready to surrender to those plans.  We didn’t want to be holding so tightly to one thing that we were not receiving something else God might have for us.  I even, began to question if my husband was doing the right thing by continuing to apply to all these departments and asked him if he should just let it go.

However, this is what he said to me, “It’s not that I’m not willing to let this go and do something else, it’s just that I keep praying over and over for God to take this desire away if it’s not what He has called me to do.  But He hasn’t.  I keep praying that He will show me whatever else He might want me to do, and He hasn’t.  Instead, I just feel more convinced that this is what I am supposed to do.  So I feel like, I just have to believe that He will provide, and be faithful to keep trying and not give up.  It might take a while, but I know it will happen eventually.”

How could I argue with that?  It wasn’t as though he was neglecting his job of providing for us financially by pursuing his calling.  He still was working his two jobs.  We were doing fine.  If He trusted that God had given him this dream for a reason, than so would I.

Two and a half years would pass from the time when he resigned at the sheriff’s department before he was given a chance at another department.

We had grown so accustomed to rejection and disappointment; we were shocked when a nearby police department offered him a position as a part time volunteer officer.  While a part time volunteer position may not seem ideal, my husband was thrilled to just be given a chance to do anything for once!

For the next few months my husband went above and beyond doing everything he could to show this department what he had to offer.  The past two and a half years had given him the growth and experience he needed to succeed at this job and he was determined to prove it.

As time went by, he was surprised, blessed and humbled by how pleased they seemed to be with his performance.

And like an unexpected gift at Christmas, the day finally came when he received a phone call from the chief offering him a full time position as an officer.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper and not to harm, plans to give you a hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

After so much defeat, rejection, and opposition, all his hard work, determination and prayer finally paid off, and my husband’s dream was a reality!  I could barely believe it.

Even though he was grateful for his jobs and willing to accept the season that he was in, he never stopped believing that God was at work in providing him just the right police agency to work for.

He never stopped believing that he had been created with the talents and abilities he had for a purpose.

He never stopped believing that the same God who placed those dreams in His heart, would also make those dreams come true and in turn use them as part of His great plan.

Because they weren’t just dreams.  They were his calling.

Today, by God’s grace, my husband has successfully completed his training period and is thriving as a police officer.

He is using his gifts and doing what he was created to do.  I have never seen him happier or more alive.

I am so thankful that he did not listen to the voices of defeat that tried to get him to give up.  But I am even more grateful that God was faithful to provide the answer to our prayer.  We are so much more humble than we were when we first got married; and it is impossible for us to take the gift of his job for granted because of the struggle that we went through to get here.

So here is what I want you to take away from this.

God does not want us to live ordinary lives.

We spend our childhood dreaming of what we want to be when we grow up, only to brush off our dreams as silly fantasies when we meet the disappointing realities of adulthood.

We tell ourselves that there is no such thing as unique callings, or epic adventures.

We don’t know what it means to live passionately for Christ, or to walk with steadfast faith, or to have unwavering love for the King of Kings.

We don’t believe that God can use us to make a difference any more than we believe that He makes a difference in our own lives.  

Instead, we are bored.

We have settled for ordinary, safe, believable lives, and we are not making an impact on this world.

Eric Ludy, in his book, When God Writes Your Life Story, says,

“God wants to blow our minds with His crazy plot turns and last minute heroics.  Instead, we have settled for ordinary lives written by ordinary human hands, life as a cheap and boring counterfeit of what could be.  Our Christian lives sadly play like PBS documentaries on the history of saddle stitching rather than awe-inspiring epic adventures.  It seems Hollywood is the only place we find conquering heroic lives these days….Unfortunately today’s Christianity breeds settlers rather than pioneers.  It has bred men and women who no longer comb the wilds of God’s grace.  And it’s time we realize that knowing Christ is an endless frontier – a frontier into which we have taken but one measly step.”

What would our lives look like if we had faith to believe that God could do the impossible?  How differently would we view our time here, if we stopped letting disappointment dictate our callings, but instead just obeyed God?

My husband would not be making the impact that He is right now if he had not had the faith to obey God’s calling on his life even when times got tough.  Instead of giving up, listening to others opinions, or demanding that things happen in his own timing, he chose to surrender to God’s plan and keep believing in His ability to carry it out despite the odds that were against him.

You see, being a hero is not simply about pursuing our dreams or doing the impossible, it’s about living a life of radical faith and obedience to whatever God is calling us to.  This includes times when we are to simply find the beauty in the mundane and times when we are required to do scary, brave things.   When we have faith to believe God can do the impossible, and we surrender to the process He uses to get us there, that is when we get to be a part of miracles.

 

Great people do not do great things; God does great things through surrendered people.”
― 
Jennie AllenRestless: Because You Were Made for More

It all comes down to how big we really believe God is.

Ordinary people do not have a big view of God.  God is safe and does what they expect Him to do.

Extraordinary people believe in an infinitely extraordinary God.

They are not afraid to serve and praise God wherever they are with whatever they are doing.  They make the most of every opportunity and gift that they have been given by believing that God can and will do great things through their lives!  They truly believe that not only is God big enough and powerful enough to do the impossible, but He chooses to do it through lives that are surrendered to Him.

Are you surrendered to Him?  Do you have faith to believe that God can take your ordinary life and make it extraordinary?

God has given you a calling.  Why don’t you start living it today?

Reflect and Respond

“Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  Matthew 19:26

Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God”?  Do you not know?  Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:27-31

Be honest with yourself.  Are you living a safe, ordinary life?  Do you purposefully not take risks for God because you do not expect much from Him?  Journal about your struggle, your areas of apathy, and the things you doubt about God.

Have you ever believed that God was calling you to do something?  Did that thing seem too hard or did you feel too under qualified?  Have you ever considered that by not pursuing that calling you are not only wasting the gifts God has given you but you are choosing disobedience?  Write about how knowing that God can do the impossible changes your belief about what He can accomplish in your life.  Pray and ask for faith to obey and eyes to see how truly great and powerful He is.

This post is the eighth post in a 31 Day Series titled, Discovering How God Makes a Difference. To read the rest of the posts in this series click here.

Or if you would like to have them mailed directly to your inbox, please subscribe here.

Want to get the most out of this series?  Try journaling through the challenge questions and daily verses!  Pray and ask the Lord to open your eyes to the ways He is seeking to transform your life.

Feel like sharing how God is making a difference in your life today?  Let us know in the comments!  We can all learn from and be inspired by each other!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13 thoughts on “Day 8: Purpose – Are You Living an Ordinary Life?

  1. What an amazingly powerful story! And quite challenging and convicting as well! But I also noticed that you did not end this with a “happily ever after”! God is not finished taking your family on adventures, is He? He has many more plans for you all, than these! I am eager to see the rest of the story unfold! This entire series is fabulous & such a blessing!!

    1. Thank you so much, Mom! And you are so right! Happily ever after is no guarantee until we get to heaven! I know God has many more adventures in store for us! Part of that makes me nervous, but that’s what adventures do right? Love you!

    2. that is so true! He is not done yet. Its funny how the worlds mentality often paints the happily ever after as soon as the woman finds her prince charming. They forget about the joys of motherhood, finding a career, watching them grow up an being grandparents etc. Anyways, this was a great blog Heather. Although I watched the situation unfold, it was a pleasure to read it back again.

      1. It is true! Life is an adventure that doesn’t end until we die. I’m so glad that you have been on the journey with me now for years, and I am so looking forward to seeing how our stories unfold as the years go by! Thanks for commenting, Michelle. : )

  2. Wow, what an encouragement to read about your journey! My husband is in a similar place that yours was for all those years. He has a very specific gift and calling and I have seen him not give up on working towards it for 5 years. I’ve pinned this post and will be sharing with him as well. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Oh Stephanie, you’ve given me such a gift! To know that this post has not only encouraged you, but that you have chosen to share it with others and with your husband means the world to me, and I am so honored! I hope your husband doesn’t give up and that he stays focused on whatever the Lord is calling him to do! He is very blessed to have a wife who recognizes and supports his gifts!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing. It so spoke to my heart today. My husband is in the military, and has wanted to be ever since he was a boy. As his wife, it is hard sometimes. Too hard! As much as I want to be selfish, there is no denying that God has called us to this life. And sometimes I need a good kick-in-the-pants reminder!

    1. You are so welcome, Laura! And thank you for taking the time to read this post! I am so thankful that it was a blessing to you! One of my closest friends is a military wife and she struggles too with accepting the hardships of military life. But thankfully she has chosen, (and from your comment it sounds like you have to,) to make the best of the circumstances and ask God how He can use her wherever she is at. It’s been amazing to see how her willingness to surrender has opened so many opportunities for her! I hope this encourages you!

  4. Heather your blog really blessed me and I can relate to it. I became a LVN in 1980. I worked a few years got married and worked in short spurts while I raised my children. The desire never left me to be a nurse so in 2006 I got my ASN in nursing. I worked a few years felt I needed more training and to specialize, so I went back and got my BSN in public health nursing. I have not had a great deal of experience in the field. Mainly book knowledge. When I tried to work I feel petrified of failing. In my last job life circumstance kept interrupting my training and I was let go. In the beginning it didn’t hurt so much but I guess Satan got the better of me. Because he has me convinced I am to old to start over and no one would want me. So I am living a ordinary life instead of a extraordinary life. I have myself convinced that I was never meant to be a nurse but when I look back, I ask myself where did that desire come from all my life. Why did I go through all that education? If this was just about my strength, I know I couldn’t pursue this any longer. Paul and the apostles where given Gods strength to pursue the ministry of Jesus. They were ordinary men. God made them extraordinary. Your story about your husband was a blessing thank you. Pray that God gives me the courage to pursue again what at one time I thought was my calling if it is Gods will and he opens up the right doors.

  5. P.s. I remember when you and Daniel were going through those struggles. In fact I remember everything you wrote about including before you and Daniel ever dated. You two are a match made in heaven. God has blessed your faithfulness.

  6. Wow, tears and joy are what I experienced while reading this. All I can say is that you two are truly blessed and patient while trusting in God. May God continue to bless you guys on this life journey together. Love you guys , Dad

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