“Small minds are concerned with the extraordinary, great minds with the ordinary.”
My wife and I are big fans of the British TV series “Downton Abbey,” which debuted in September 2010 and concluded in December 2015. Through 6 seasons and 52 episodes, we lived vicariously from our ordinary couch through the fictional lives of the aristocratic Crawley family as they did life together at their Yorkshire country estate in the early 1900s.
When the Crawleys would sit down to eat, it was always a big event. Well, perhaps I should rephrase that; it looked like a big event to Becky and me but it was just an ordinary meal for them. Perfect place settings with all the pomp and circumstance that goes with it were a staple of every meal for the Crawleys.
When we sit down to eat at our house, things look a lot different than they did at the Downton Abbey estate. We have no butlers and maids waiting on us and we’re not eating from fine china. We prepare the food ourselves, serve ourselves, and eat from our ordinary, everyday china.
The picture you see above is of our everyday china, which we’re very fond of. When we got married, it was very common for brides to register two china patterns at a local retailer for gift givers to help the couple build out their dinnerware; an everyday pattern and a fine dining pattern. You will notice that the picture shows the imperfection of the porcelain we still use today. It started out perfect but after 38 years, it bears the battle scares of many a meal. We look past the chips and cracks.
We started with 12 of everything: cups, saucers, bowls, salad plates, and dinner plates. I counted our collection this week, and here’s what we have now: 12 cups, 11 saucers, 7 bowls, 7 salad plates, and only 5 dinner plates. Doing the math, I figure we’ve eaten over 10,000 meals from our dinner plates. Each of the 5 remaining plates has a crack or a chip, and 7 broke completely and were disposed of.
I’m happy to say our fine china has no cracks or chips and no plates, saucers, cups, or bowls have been broken. I must also report that I can remember eating from our fine china on special occasions only a few handfuls of times. In fact, we recently moved and had a tough time locating where it had been stored.
China that doesn’t get used, doesn’t get cracked or broken. It’s the same with us. Self-preservation by non-participation is a dull existence. A life lived on the shelf isn’t much of a life.
Living the ordinary, everyday life will crack, chip, and sometimes break us. But we are not without hope. Paul gives us some great advice in his letter to the church in Rome:
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering … God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (The Message)
Paul said get out your everyday china and use it. You don’t need any fine china. All you china is fine. God will look past your chips, cracks, and brokenness. He will use your everydayness and redeems you. He can’t use what’s stored away for special occasions. When we walk with Jesus, every day is a special occasion, because we’re special; special enough for Him to come and “stretch out His arms of love upon the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of His saving embrace (book of common prayer).”
While divine, sinless, and from royalty, Jesus put on the likeness of a human and came to live an ordinary life, like you and me, He experienced the chips, cracks, and brokenness that come with everyday living on Planet Earth. He did it to identify with us so that we could identify with Him.
Got chips, cracks, and breaks? Cheer up; It means you are alive. God doesn’t even notice them, so why should you? Embrace your imperfections and take your everyday, ordinary life and place it before God as an offering. When you do this the Lord will bless you, sustain you, and redeem you.