One of the best books that I read in 2020 was The Ministry of Ordinary Places by Shannan Martin. This book made me think, it made me cry, and it forced me to reconsider the way that I live out my faith in my own local community.
More than anything else though, this book reminded me of the beauty of the ordinary spaces in my life. I tend to look only at the big, the flashy, the loud, and the bold. It is easy for the simple aspects of my life to get overlooked and under appreciated. As this relates to my faith, I am guilty of not noticing my neighbor literally and metaphorically.
“In teaching me to invest deeply in this potholed street, [God] is pulling me to His chest…God is calling to us from the world we’re in. He wants to meet us right here.”-The Ministry of Ordinary Places by Shannan Martin.
Martin’s work reminds me that my participating in the Kingdom of God starts right here where I am–in the very town in which I live. The streets that I drive up and down every day our my ministry ground, if I chose to open my eyes and view them that way.
“The Kingdom of God defines success as the intangible, unmistakable ability to cling to hope when everyone else is wagging their fingers and shaking their heads…it’s becoming clear that the smaller my world and my work become, the more grounded I am in God’s vast kingdom.”The Ministry of Ordinary Places by Shannan M. Martin
While I was reading this book, my washing machine stopped working. For the first time in my adult life, I was forced to pack all my laundry in the trunk of my Rouge and find our local laundromat. At first I was scared to sit in the blue plastic chairs tucked around corner of the building, but as the weeks passed by I became more and more comfortable. As I watched people of all ages and stripes put coins in the washing machines, I realized that I was staring directly at my neighbors. It is rare when the outside circumstances of my life align directly a book that I am reading, but that was certainly the case here. What was even more noticeable to me was that I have lived in my community for 10 years, but I have had little to personal investment in it. I often drive to the next town over where things have a shinier exterior. This book reminded me that God placed me here for a very specific reason, but in order to be the hands and feet of God in my community I have to step out of my comfort zone and meet my neighbors.