Lisa-Jo, Ordinary, Laundry, and Me

On Friday, I wrote for a cynical five minutes on the word prompt “ordinary.”

It was Lisa-Jo’s word for Five Minute Friday, a bloggers prompt with simple rules: write for five minutes, no editing.

I didn’t post it. I read my words back to myself and realized I had swallowed a big dose of self-pity. I was irritated and grumpy.

On Saturday, I sat down to a Bible lesson on ordinary. I was convicted.

Gideon was threshing, an ordinary task, the necessary work of the harvest.

Gideon had no choice. He couldn’t do work of threshing the kernels the easy way. He couldn’t go out in the open to the threshing floor with the oxen trampling the wheat underfoot, pulling a weight to break the hard encasement from the tender nourishment inside the seed, a cool breeze blowing in from the north.

No, life’s circumstances necessitated his threshing by hand in a winepress. Throwing a cumbersome weight down with his muscled arms, he beat the seeds with all his strength, hidden from the sight of his enemies. There would be no wind to blow away the chaff.

He must have been sucking it in, the chaff and the dust, inside those walls as the particles of chaff swirled around him each time he swung the weight up, over and down in the enclosure. He would have been caked with wheat particles glued to his body by the sweat of his work. He must have hacked to clear his throat, wiped his face with his sleeve.

Threshing was routine in the midst of the harvest. To harvest meant threshing must follow.

Gideon couldn’t do it the optimal way. The Midianites would see. They would come and take his harvest. I imagine they intentionally waited until the threshing was done. They would have clearly seen the wheat growing in the fields. They weren’t stupid. They would wait until the threshing was done to take what was not theirs and plunder the abundance without having to do any of the work.

So Gideon hid in the wine press, threshed in secret, sucked in dust and chaff so he could perform what was the routine task that always followed the work of the harvest. He and his family could survive because he was willing to work in the confines of his present reality. Surrounded by enemies---and idols, life was difficult but Gideon trudged on. He did what was necessary for the survival of those who depended on him.

There is no indication that Gideon despised the ordinary even with its difficulties. But he may have been asking the age-old question, “why?” Or maybe, he asked, “where?” Why wasn’t the Land of Promise more promising? Where was the God he had heard about from his grandparents? He was here in this place because of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It seemed that God had led the people into the land and took off to parts unknown.

Gideon was doing what was necessary and life giving. He was attending to the gift of the harvest. My guess is that he was thankful for the provision despite the difficulty. Could he have had any sense of gratitude, seen any semblance of the good when the enemy camped in the valley, the smoke of their fires lifting into the wheat fields, slipping under the threshold of the door?

Even though life was difficult, threshing would yield life.

I find myself despising the ordinary far too often. When I do, I am despising the provision, the harvest of life given to me from above. I need new eyes to see. Routine has often looked to me as tedious, boring, and mundane. Unlike Gideon, I don’t even need enemies trying to take my provision; I have become my own enemy, despising what has been given to me from above.

I want to live differently regarding the ordinary----to remember the gifts in the harvest in my life. I want to thank God when I sort the whites from the darks, take the washed wet clothes and shove them over into the dryer. I want to breathe gratitude, the warm, fragrant smell of clean cotton right from the dryer---an abundance to fold and put away; to stand under the flow of water from the faucet showering me, leaving lime on the glass door for me to scrub. Dust settles endlessly on the furniture. I see it swirling in the light coming through the windows. Dusting---the never-ending task of wrangling the ordinary.

If I can’t see God’s provision in the ordinary, how will I ever see it when the enemy is at the gate---when ordinary is threatened by crisis, health issues, the myriad of possibilities that come with living in a broken world?

Ordinary looks likes Jesus, unassuming, without thunderbolts and lightning. When we don’t see provision in the ordinary, we are likely to miss Jesus in all the little pieces of routine that together make up a life.

Ordinary in the daily-ness of life is one of God’s greatest gifts. My ordinary life is a life so many in this world could not dream to live.

That’s why I am joining Lisa-Jo’s #LaundryForAfrica Day. She’s asked the world to help build a water source and laundry point for mothers in South Africa. After my day on Friday complaining about the ordinary, the necessary, the mundane in life, I will start where I am and help provide a place for someone to wash her baby's clothes.

And I will be thankful for the laundry in hamper and the machines that clean my clothes with a touch of button.

Those who are given much give much.

Today I am embracing the ordinary and I praying for the extraordinary among the poor of the world who need the miracle of water to come into their ordinary lives.

Hit the red link above to read Lisa-Jo's post or click here to donate through the giving site Pure Charity.




Linking with Jennifer at #TellHisStory and Emily at Imperfect Prose

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