Friday, February 03, 2006

Believe it or Not

Do you remember the show "Greatest American Hero"? It had a great theme song. The words went something like this:

"Believe it or not, I'm walkin' on air,
I never thought I could feel so free.
Flyin' away on a wing and a prayer,
Who could it be?
Believe it or not, it's just me."

The tall tale of an ordinary man who lived an extraordinary life.

There are days, even weeks, when we live in the ordinary. We breathe in and out and go on our way without a thought of being any more than that. Ordinary.

There was another show, based on a bestselling book and museum "Ripley's Believe it or Not." I don't think it had a theme song. But its premise was enticing.

How the ordinary morphs into extraordinary beyond explanation.

There are days, even weeks, when we'll do almost anything for some extra attention. We may still breathe in and out, but we might do so through a set of gills, in a plastic bubble, or with finger nails long enough that they wrap around our forearms. We ache for the extraordinary.

Whether you live in the limelight or behind the scenes, we all want attention. We all want our ordinary selves to reap extraordinary rewards and achieve extraordinary feats. But some of us, once we've had a taste, realize that it's not at all what our pallette expected.

My cousin is a great American hero. He is a New York City firefighter and he was there on 9/11. That day, like any other day, he did his job. He cringes at the title of "hero." As amazing as we think those firefighters and police officers were that day, all they think is that they failed. They couldn't save enough people. If asked, my cousin will say, "I'm just a man. I'm just me." Even the best trained can't save the world.

The ordinary married the extraordinary in one person. Jesus humbled himself to be born and grow up to be a man, who breathes in and out, in order to accomplish the extraordinary. And He's the only one who can.

That's comforting to me in a way. My ordinary self breathes a sigh of relief when I realize that it's not up to me to save anyone, and truth be told, I can't. I'm just me. And alone I can do nothing.

God works the extraordinary into our lives like I work yeast into my bread dough. I knead it, slowly but purposefully, into the dough until it become elastic, and then let it rest so it can rise. When the conditions are just right it doubles in bulk and releases the most heavenly aroma when baked. There's nothing better.

Flour and water and salt are ordinary ingredients. But flour and water and salt and yeast - well, that makes extraordinary bread!

An ordinary life can rise and double in bulk once the Spirit of the Lord is added to it.