When I started working at the hotel, I thought it would be one of the greatest jobs ever.
I imagined a place swarming with interesting people – travelers, vagabonds, those with a past – they would all intersect here, where I was, and where they needed me. Hotels are fascinating places – a train station for people, as my friend calls them – the unassuming crucible where a thousand stories intersect. It would be the perfect job for a writer – a quiet place where I could sit back and observe the behind the scenes of a drama.
I was wrong.
If you’ve ever wondered what a hotel desk clerk does in those mysterious afternoon hours when the lobby stands vacant – especially one in a small town like my own – the answer is this: they do nothing. Their day drags forward at the pace of the people in the room, and so for most of the day, it drags forward at a speed of 0 feet per second.
I’m sure there are very fascinating people at hotels, but apparently, you have to actually meet them to know. Most hotel clerks don’t have that opportunity, unless of course you want the conversation to center on the rooms available, the weekend rates, or the leaking sink in 302.
Many nights, I come home with the exhaustion that accompanies a long and wasted day. My brain has been slowed to the heavy, mindless crawl of a slug on a freeway. My mind and body feels numb from the long periods of empty waiting. The only thing I can feel is my heart – violin-string tight, and one turn away from snapping.
I feel aimless, and struggle to embrace the larger purpose of life.
I didn’t sign up for ordinary.
As young people, we are famous for being dreamers. The quintessential, lazy millennial playing video games in his mother’s basement may still be a reality for some of our age range, but there is a rising popularity of the opposite extreme: the travelers, the business owners, the post-modern gypsies, sucking out the marrow of life with the greediness of a soul’s deprivation.
Life satisfaction has become the measure of success. And life satisfaction can’t be found in the hotel lobby’s of Thailand any more than the ones here. It doesn’t ignite with the engine of a mercedes. It doesn’t comfort you in the next binge meal. It doesn’t roll in with the goal weight on the scale. It doesn’t marry your future when you marry your spouse.
And we chase and chase and chase and still feel like we missed it. And here I am, in a puddle of tears and empty promises, mourning the loss of what I never had.
We Were Made For Something Better
I’m sure Adam and Eve didn’t know how good they had it – how much the Fall would change their lives. Sometimes I wonder how they felt with each painful discovery of a sin never before realized, a struggle never known, a fear never felt.
I wonder what it was like when they had the same thirst and longing for God that they had been created with, and suddenly found it not only broken and relinquished, but constantly dissatisfied. Searching, searching, searching. Come back. I’m sure the ones who looked hardest for a second eden were the ones who experienced the blessing of the first.
We were made for more than this. We were made to fill up our satisfaction and our longings in the only One who can truly satisfy. God created us to glorify Him and rest in His promises. He made us to be happy in the happiness only He can provide.
When we fell as a race, and when we fall every day, rebelling against our created order, we rebel against our own joy. Our longings are more than an unquenched thirst for the future; they are memories of the past. We are remembering the original taste of the garden. We are nostalgic for what we have never had, but were created to enjoy. We were made to be satiated with heaven’s bounty, and we’re chained by sin to this earth.
But we serve a gracious Heavenly Father, who gave Himself for us, so that even here, even now, we may “Taste and see that the Lord is good!” And we look forward to a day when that taste will be fully satisfied – and the second garden will be better than the first.
Until then, He gives us His strength every day.
He Shall Renew Our Strength…To Walk
Soak in the promises of Isaiah 40:
“He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.”
Do you see the progression here? God enables us to mount up with wings and feel His pleasure. He equips us to run with endurance the race He has set before us. But even more common, and even more difficult, He strengthens us to walk the daily, ordinary life He has given, and invites us to rest in Him.
There is no such thing as living up to a potential where God is absent. There will never be a dream to chase where you can stake your happiness. There will never be a mountain to climb on this earth, that will replace the joy of heaven.
But even here, on this earth – on this train station for people, this unassuming crucible where a billion stories intersect – He does not quietly sit back and observe the unfolding drama. The Great Author has entered His own story, taken our pain, our sorrow, and our sin and bore them on Himself. In Him is our hope, and our salvation, and our future.
His mercies rise new every morning, though the day that follows looks the same.
When you are weary and disappointed, when you feel aimless, when the job God has given you today is so much harder than changing the world, come to Jesus. Roll your despair onto the Cross and take His yoke upon you, for His burden is easy and His yoke is light.
Live in the ordinary. God is here.