Ordinary People Living Ordinary Lives
by Norma Jackson Goldman
The Old Testament book of Judges covers a dangerous period in the life of God’s chosen people—the nearly 400 years between the death of Joshua and the rise of the prophet, priest, and judge Samuel. After Joshua’s death, the people fell away from God, taking up many of the practices of the former inhabitants who had been judged by God and driven out of the land. Israel was a nation held together loosely with no capital, no single leader, and no political structure where “every man did what was right in his own eyes" (1 Samuel 21:25).
But God was at work then, even as He is today. A series of 15 leaders, both men and women, sprang up to meet the challenges of the day. They were ordinary people living ordinary lives God used to accomplish His purposes. They weren’t educated or great spiritual leaders, and in virtually all cases, they did not seek the limelight. Today, we would call them laymen.
Today’s church finds itself in a setting that looks similar to the time of the judges. Long-held values and Christian virtues appear foreign to new generations who have no history or allegiance to them. But God is at work, His Church endures, and ordinary people, living ordinary lives are still proclaiming the gospel. And God is using them to accomplish His purposes. This is happening around the globe in settings once hostile to the gospel—not just a few great leaders, but thousands and thousands of laymen and women.
The book of Acts shares some practical but profound illustrations of the dramatic spread of Christianity in a hostile environment. Ordinary people, living ordinary lives began to share stories of how Christ had changed them, given them hope, and called them to a higher purpose. With few exceptions, they were neither trained nor highly educated. Most stayed in their local settings, bringing people into their homes to hear that God had forgiven their sins and changed them forever. The result was that the gospel blanketed the earth in a few short decades…and it can happen again in the same way!
I have such a story, and if you’re reading this magazine, I’m fairly certain you have one too. Mine begins while I was attending high school, totally unaware of my need for a Savior and living in a home with no awareness of God’s plan for mankind or the possibility of a new life in Christ.
Thankfully, my life intersected with faithful ordinary people, living ordinary lives. My friend Esther was a believer, and she encouraged me faithfully to go with her to church. When I finally gave in, the small congregation of loving believers welcomed me warmly, without hesitation. I was confronted with my need of a Savior, and I gave myself to Him without reservation, promising to go anywhere He led.
Though still an ordinary person and now retired, I have led an extraordinary life of sharing this simple story. I share it imperfectly, but God does not require perfection. He only asks that we share and then wait quietly for the Holy Spirit to do the work we cannot. I’ve shared it with neighbors, business colleagues, and Bible study groups, through writing articles and books, and on mission trips to many countries. I share it by helping to send others to foreign lands, through supporting my local church, and by praying daily for my pastor as he shares His own story.
Still, millions have not yet heard the good news of Jesus. Will you share your story so they may? Your ordinary life can make an extraordinary difference.
About the Writer: Former magazine editor Norma J. Goldman is a regular contributor to ONE Magazine. The award-winning columnist lives near Nashville, TN. Learn more about thriving in retirement at www.boardofretirement.com.