Beneath the Ordinary

It was with great anticipation that I stepped into the lobby of the post office. We were waiting for important mail, a letter that could set the direction of our lives for the next few years. When I opened our box and saw the card telling me we had a registered letter, I was thrilled. I shifted from foot to foot in the line at the counter, anxious to receive the news.

When the clerk handed the envelope to me my heart sank. It was not the letter I expected, but something from the Yukon government. We had received these plain brown envelopes before, containing updates on union negotiations related to a job my husband had held several years before. Often the envelope would be tossed in the trash without being opened. Disappointed and disgruntled, I grumbled about governments wasting money to send something so insignificant by registered mail. I tossed it onto a pile of other papers at home and almost forgot to mention it to my husband.

When he opened the letter, however, he gave a whoop that brought me running. The envelope contained the first installment of a retroactive payment for work done on that long-ago job. The union negotiations had been settled and further payment was on its way. The money was a direct answer to prayer. After three years of Bible college, our finances were depleted and we were facing starting out in a new career, new community, and new home, without the resources to do it. Over the next few weeks we received enough to sustain us through that transition. We learned a great deal about the faithfulness of God in the process.

God’s answers to prayer often come packaged in ordinary things. His blessings often come through everyday occurrences and each one holds the treasure of God’s character hidden inside. Too often, we miss them. We toss them on a pile with unwanted clutter and go on looking for what we want from a different source. We miss seeing God’s blessings and we miss seeing Him.

The woman at Jacob’s well almost missed seeing Him. When Jesus asked her for a drink she was shocked. He was a Jewish man, she a Samaritan woman. The two should not have acknowledged one another’s presence, let alone spoken. Jesus tells her – “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” (John 4:10) The woman did not ignore His remarks. She questioned Him and brought others from her town to investigate His claims. Because she saw the depth of His offered gift, hidden in the reference to common water, she and others were saved.

God’s gifts may look ordinary. They may come wrapped in what is common. But as Christian writers it is our responsibility to look again, to observe and to see the treasure beneath what is ordinary, then reveal it to the world through our writing. It’s the concept of “write what you know.” Write what God has placed right before your eyes.

Let’s be like the Samaritan woman, seeing the deeper things, acknowledging that God is there and encouraging others to share in the discovery.

Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone and also has two devotional books in print. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. The sequel to One Smooth Stone will be released in 2011. A collection of devotionals for writers has just been released here. Visit Marcia’s website