Engage Magazine: Courageously Normal
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Engage exists to provide perspective on culture through the eyes of a Biblical worldview, showing how that worldview intersects with culture and engages it.

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Courageously Normal

Canada Burkhalter
Graphic Designer

When I was in college someone asked me, “What is your personal ministry? How are you serving God?" These questions gave me pause. I was involved in ministries on campus, but as for a personal ministry that was my own great task for the church, I did not have anything. That got me thinking, “Oh no. I don’t have a personal ministry. Am I supposed to have one of those? I don’t know what I’m doing for God. I go to Church and read my Bible, but I’m not the leader of a big organization ending world hunger or anything. Should I be?”

Then I proceeded to try to figure out what my ministry should be. Or rather, what unique thing I had to offer God and the church. The expectation of being more than just another cultural Christian became heavy on my mind. I thought, “When I get to the end of my life, what will I have to show Jesus? I need to do something great for Him. He is worthy of it, right?"

This expectation is a problem. Life does not always facilitate the opportunity for what many consider greatness. Just like many in my generation have come to understand, the bright shiny future we were promised in Saturday morning cartoons does not really exist. We can’t just pick what we want off of a shelf like we pick a loaf of bread. It takes hard work, and even if we do attain those goals, adulthood still carries the weight of responsibilities that cannot be ignored despite our dreams of greater things. 

Back in college, I was normal. I had no great claim to fame. Today, nothing has changed. I work at a ministry, but the aforementioned obligation of finding my own personal crusade for Jesus is yet to be fulfilled. And you know what? That is okay.

Let me clarify a few things. Being a leader and instigator of a great, world-shaping ministry is not a bad thing. It is a great thing! In fact, if you are blessed enough to know exactly what God has called you to do, thank the Lord. He directed you to that place. 

The point I am making is this: it is okay to be normal. More than that, I would submit that it takes courage to be normal. Oswald Chambers said it perfectly in his devotional My Utmost for His Highest:

"We do not need the grace of God to withstand crises—human nature and pride are sufficient for us to face the strain magnificently. But it does require the supernatural grace of God to live twenty-four hours of every day as a saint, going through drudgery, living an ordinary, unnoticed, and ignored existence as a disciple of Jesus” (My Utmost for His Highest, October 21).

Chambers is saying we humans deal with epic and perilous crises in our flesh and survive. I would add that crises are best weathered through dependence on Christ. But it is perhaps even more difficult to live through the everyday drudgery that is normal life. When we go through crises, people surround us, pray for us, and build us up. But in everyday life there is no special recognition. No one notices you because you are normal. It is easy to do great things and be seen by men, but it takes a vast amount of maturity to do great things that will never be seen. In fact, you yourself may never see the results. 

So what is my individual, world-shaking ministry? It is my life. What am I doing for God? I am living. I meditate in the Word (Psalm 1:1-3) and it bleeds into ever aspect of life, my interactions with people, the things I say, and the subjects to which I devote my time. I put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) in order to be ready for whatever comes my way. I keep my mind fresh and never lose sight of the life Christ has given me in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17).

This is how I am changing the world. A smile and a kind word to the girl at the drive-thru window, a tract given to a waiter, a word of encouragement to a friend who is struggling, and sharing Christ when the Spirit moves me. My life is my ministry. I do not have to figure out what it is. Indeed, any plans I come up with for myself are never as successful as God’s. I am in Christ, and I seek to reflect Him wherever I go.

Please do not think that I am trying to portray a sour grapes attitude here. I am still young; my life is not over. Someday I believe that God will reveal the bigger plans for my life. But until then, I find comfort in knowing that God simply calls me to be faithful. Faithfulness in itself can be a ministry and faithfulness takes great courage.



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