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Ordinary or Extraordinary?

By Marlene Houk

Burke CountyMarlene Houk Burke County


2 Corinthians 9:10: “Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food. And multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness.”

During my childhood, shadows fascinated my imagination. I would try to step on them, form animals with the shadow of my fingers, and laugh at how tall my figure looked on the grass in the late afternoon sun.

When my daughter and I visited the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, we discovered a delightful new take on ordinary shadows. Our experience created a long-held memory and cast a profound spiritual truth into our hearts.

In a drab, unattended corner of the vast museum, we reveled in this new game. In this section, no bells clanged.  No uniformed attendants, awe-inspiring submarines, warplanes, or volcanoes interrupted us. We lingered in the quiet corner, mesmerized by technology that made ordinary balls and simple shadows take on a new dimension as they collaborated to entertain us.

We stepped in front of a common everyday screen, not expecting much. But as we watched, something extraordinary popped up on the white expanse. The light shining on the screen caused our shadows to appear, and the technology allowed the shadows of a thousand balls to tumble around the shapes we formed. The unusual interaction between the balls’ shadows and our shadows caused the spheres to plop, cascade, and bounce. Mesmerized, we immersed ourselves in this new twist on the age-old game of shadows.

Hold your arms up in a wide triangle: see how many you catch! Laughing in surprise, we watched the dancing spheres fill the container made by our outstretched arms. The ping-pong-sized circles also plopped on our heads and toppled around our bodies, and we chuckled with delight at the extraordinary 21st-century version of an ordinary, timeless amusement.

Our captivating experience reminded me of how God led the Israelites—through Moses—from Egyptian bondage to the promised land of Canaan as recorded in Exodus. He imbued an ordinary cloud and common fire with extraordinary glory so that approximately 2.4 million Israelites could follow Him to their legacy.

How big and unusual would a cloud need to be to clearly show the way to their inheritance? How fierce and towering would a fire need to be to illuminate their path at night? One can only imagine the ‘technology” and “science” that God used to cause these two mundane facets of life—a cloud and a fire—to dominate the sky and miraculously guide God’s people to the promised land.

As Christians, do we realize (like the cloud and fire), God instills our routine duties with the magnificence of His glory? As the new mother and father tenderly snuggle their tiny infant, they determine to raise him for the Lord. Through years of mundane tasks, he is trained “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). And God transforms those menial responsibilities into pillars of grace and godliness that burn brightly beyond mere mortality.

As a teacher mirrors Christ’s love and patience with her students, Jesus gently reminds them for years to come of her godly nature. When blessings appear throughout her former students’ lives, the cloud of their teacher’s influence beckons them to God.

Because we surrender our wills to God, He fills our ordinary lives with the radiance of His glory which draws people to Him in extraordinary ways. Like the ubiquitous cloud and universal fire, Christ forms our simple smile of love into a huge cloud that gently enfolds the needy and comforts them with His love. Or, perhaps He takes our passion to serve Him and sparks a fiery intense pillar of fire to light the way for others to follow.

God transforms the ordinary in our lives into the extraordinary for His glory!


Marlene is an author and teacher of Bible studies. She may be reached at

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Blue Ridge Christian News covers Avery County, Burke County, McDowell County, Mitchell County, Yancey County, and Madison County in North Carolina, and Christian news from around the country.