What were the highlights of 2018 for you? I’d suspect there are a handful of days you can actually remember. For me, September 6th comes in strong – when I sprained my ankle and was out of commission for months. My friend’s 40th birthday in Mexico is blazed into memory. February 20 Ahh… the ocean. The sun. Nope, wait, March 24 (had to check the calendar). Okay, so maybe not quite a handful that distinctly in memory.
How about Friday, March 23, 2018. Anything? Wednesday, June 18th? And yet I know, certainly, that those days mattered then. I probably was very intentional about dinner and the gas in the car and who I remembered to call. But a year later, it was just an ordinary day.
There are those moments when you know it’s one for the photo books, and there are so many ordinary days in between. Most of our days are spent in those in-between afternoons, holding out, planning, anticipating, dreading, wondering… when will that next big moment be?
One of those I-bet-I’ll-remember-it-forever moments is coming up. February 9th and 10th we will announce that our church is sensing God’s call to plant a church in Port Orchard, about 15 miles north of us, and I’ll be sent to lead that church-plant. It will be one significant weekend that’s been led up to, and will be followed up by, many ordinary days.
Church-planting is teaching me to expect God to be especially near in those seemingly ordinary moments.
Jesus spent a lot of his life in ordinary moments. Think about just how short our window is into the life of Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I think, “Jesus, what were you up to when you weren’t healing or preaching? Or did you just do a lot more of that and it was so repetitive no one thought to record it again and again?” There were plenty of “fourth days of the second month” that just passed by, I suppose. Jesus and his disciples. Talking. Walking. Eating.
They spent so many ordinary days getting to know towns and people’s stories and those afternoons linked together as crescendos and decrescendos for these big, unforgettable moments. Take the healing of the paralytic. You remember this one. The friends break up the roof tiles to get their friend lowered down into the very presence of Jesus. Jesus forgives his sin and, just so they know he has the authority to do that, he also tells him to pick up his mat and walk. Leading up to that, though, is Mark 2:1, “And when [Jesus] returned to Capernaum, after some days, it was reported that he was at home.”
There are so many other ordinary phrases that surround that story. Mark 2:13, “He went out again beside the sea…” and verse 15, “And as he reclined at the table in his house…” and verse 23, “One Sabbath, he was going through the grainfields…” These are the Jesus equivalents of, “She went out to Target again,” or “ as she set the table for dinner,” or “Monday, when she was at the grocery store…”
Jesus lived an incredibly ordinary life of routine that we all really relate to… AND YET… The paralytic. The leper. The woman with the flask of oil. The multitude of fish. Unforgettable. Miraculous. Extraordinary.
Something has shifted in me as February 9th and 10th approaches. It’s not that weekend in-and- of-itself. It’s the mindset that has shifted in me of being a church-planter. I expect, and by that I mean, I really anticipate and look out for, God to show up with something extraordinary in the middle of the most ordinary moments. And that expectation changes everything.
It’s a Thursday morning. I go to the coffee shop downtown Port Orchard. I get a coffee. That woman walking in the door, am I supposed to know her? Is this about to be an extraordinary moment? It feels like it. Wait, nope. My son wants to run out the door. That is weird. We go to the playground. Ten minutes later, here she comes! How can I start a conversation with her? Her eighteen-month-old, Sawyer, plays with Reed. This is good! Whelp, Sawyer bites Reed. Well, at least I get to meet her. Jacky. It’s been a while since she’s connected with God. An hour later, and I’m praying for God to give her a line of a song she once knew to remind her he is with her. Fifteen minutes later, as my husband witnesses, Jacky walks back into that coffee shop where four teenagers are singing worship music in the back. Jacky and Sawyer listen. She’s emotional. God is reconnecting with her.
It was a Thursday morning. It was a supernatural moment of God’s presence. I was just going to the coffee shop and the playground like normal. But I was looking for Jesus. And there he was. Reconnecting. Singing. Reminding. Breaking in the Kingdom.
I’ve come to expect that kind of extraordinary encounter with God in the everyday, grocery shopping, coffee sipping, playground jumping, moments. And often, He is right there! Just as he was when he walked the earth.
So I ask you—do you expect him? Are you talking with God in such a way that you’re open to someone crossing your path in the coffee shop who you’re not expecting? Do you pray in such a way to anticipate a friend of yours to be healed? Jesus is still building his kingdom, and he’s doing it through you. His Holy Spirit, in you. Do you let him? Do you ask him to show up?
I have more extraordinary stories from the past eight months than from the past… goodness, I don’t want to put a number on that. And it’s because I’m looking for the Kingdom! It is very near, “the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15). Don’t miss it. It’s no ordinary day. Jesus is here.
Rev. Megan Hackman is Associate Pastor at Chapel Hill Presbyterian in Gig Harbor, Washington. Student of God’s Word with colored pencils in one hand, ready to take notes and understand, and a cell phone in the other, ready for it to make a difference in the next appointment I have. Local waterfront, coffee, and running route connoisseur.