At one time, I was a worship leader, youth pastor, blogger, radio host, photographer, sign language interpreter, and a family man. In that order.
This morning, a lifelong friend of our family came up to me and asked, “What’s exciting in your life this week?” Without thinking, I said, “You know, most days I just want to get the kids in bed in one piece and pay the power bill. That’s my main calling.” I said it tongue-in-cheek, but I meant it.
As a teen and throughout my 20s, I considered everything from religion to military service to find my purpose. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do with my life, but I was certain it would be magnificent. I was sure it would involve stages and possibly fame. I was accustomed to excelling, and didn’t God promise me a hope and a future?
But last night, the magnificent showed up as my almost-2-year-old waddled over to the couch and begged, “Book, Dada, book!” For nearly an hour, my daughter laid her rosy little biscuit cheeks on my shoulder as we read Brown Bear, Brown Bear 47 times.
My future collides with my present when my son wants to snuggle at 1 a.m. All I really want to do is sleep in my queen-sized bed without a kid kicking my rib cage repeatedly for hours. But another thought flashes through my mind. He won’t be four-years-old forever, and we won’t always fit together on this twin mattress.
Where’s that hope I always quoted in my 20s? It’s found in the mornings I have the honor of fixing my wife’s coffee while she has a few minutes of “becoming human” time on the couch. In a different season, our marriage nearly fell apart, due to my constant busyness and drive to do something big. But God’s grace is greater than even our biggest mistakes. Now, I have the privilege of making her coffee and helping with household chores.
And I notice, all the “small things” in my day are really the big things of life. The “small things” are my family. Instead of viewing my wife and children as additional baggage, one more responsibility, I now realize they are my greatest gifts. God is my hope and my children are my future. When I take my last breath on earth, won’t be thinking of metrics and stats. I pray to God I won’t be thinking of my failures of any sort of disappointment I ever faced, but instead of all the small things. The time I took to breathe. To kiss my son on the forehead. To reach across the kitchen table and hold my wife’s hand. To notice the way a baby smells behind the ears. These tiny moments are the ones that matter the most to me now.
God isn’t confined by church walls or Christian music. He isn’t only impressed by preaching to an audience of 10,000. He cares just as much about my commitment to tell my children a Bible story each night. When I let go of doing big things for God, I found a God who isn’t any more wowed with billboard Christianity than the single Mom who manages to put supper on the table, even if the house isn’t spotless, and raise children who know their value and where they belong.
I find my hope in the fact that God connects with me on a personal level, not because of my great ability, but because of the fact that God who values who we are above what we do.
This extraordinary God is found in a thousand ordinary moments. In letting go of unrealistic expectations, I am finding God in the most wonderfully ordinary ways: at the kitchen table with my wife, working through deep-seated fears; in every intentional moment I spend with my children, cultivating their innocence and self-worth; and even on the couch at the counselor’s office. Today, I am finding God in the pew and on the playground.
Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.
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