Not sure if I’ve mentioned this or not (possibly 24 times) but we spend a good many of our summer days at the water park. When I was a kid, the closest water park was in Atlanta requiring a weekend vacation for a visit. They had all the things over in Georgia, a measly two hours away. Six Flags, Whitewater, the Coca-Cola Museum, Underground Atlanta (which is maybe not a thing anymore?). Birmingham had Oak Mountain State Park for lake swimming and the local YMCA for a pool. I spent plenty of summer days at the “Y.”
Now, we live in our own version of my childhood Atlanta. Only times ten. Our little suburb doesn’t have a pool at our community center. Ballroom dance classes and watercolor painting for seniors but no pool. But we do have a waterpark and that’s maybe better. Well, at least bigger.
Sometimes I still can’t believe we live here. Not here in our suburb (although it’s a DELIGHT). Here in the DFW Metroplex. All the amenities a major metropolitan area offers spoil us completely. We drive an hour and a half round trip for a playdate that lasts three hours and that’s totally normal. But we also only drive five minutes to the grocery store, four to the library, walk to our elementary school, and ten minutes to our water park. The furthest we drive on a regular basis is to church and that’s 14 minutes.
We are livin’ my childhood big city dreams.
What was a rare treat when I was a kid is an ordinary, mundane day for my kids.
We’ve only been seven times this summer (since we were gone for most of June) (plus the first-day sunburn because of #momfail) and already my son is crying BORED after about two hours.
I still see each and every visit as a treat.
But it’s more than just my childhood water park dreams altering my perception of our ordinary. It’s the community around us.
This past Monday we loaded up, like normal, headed for at least half a day at the park. We packed the cooler to the gills, applied sunscreen in copious amounts, and left, excited to find out who we would see that day.
For the most part, we see friends every time we go. Sometimes, that’s arranged. Other times it’s random. And often, the kids make new friends when they’re there.
That day, the kids played together for an hour or so and then we ran into some sweet friends walking in the door. They joined us and all the four kids went to stand under the big bucket dumping water every 90 seconds. Then, about 30 minutes later, one of the new friends Skillet had made the week before arrived. Meanwhile, Saffron ran into another school friend and they went off to float the Lazy River together.
And all I could think was how ordinary and miraculous these moments are.
Sometimes I think we forget God is in the summer water park mundane as much as He’s in the summer mission trip exceptional.
He’s at work floating in the wave pool and lazy river. Laughing when the big bucket tips over. Screaming with us all the way down and around the whirlpool slide.
Jesus sits with the mommas as we talk VBS and vacations and upcoming school years and our late summer nights. He’s there when the kids eat all the cookies, chips, and ALDI golden penguins instead of the ham, cheese, and pears. He walks beside me as I get a band-aid for Skillet’s finger he scraped going up the stairs to a slide. Cheers with me as Saffron completes the obstacle course for the 14th time in a row.
Jesus goes with us to the fun, silly, mundane places just as much as we intentionally take Him with us to the hard, needy, extraordinary places.
But we so often forget to recognize Him.
Sometimes, that’s because we’re so busy but sometimes I wonder if we don’t “forget” because we feel like we aren’t doing real kingdom work. Almost as if being on mission means it must be sacrificial and sad and somewhere far away.
And unless it feels hard then it can’t be holy.
That’s a lie.
God called us to be exactly where we are right now.
Our water parks, pools, splash pads, baseball parks, ninja gyms, movie theaters, swim meets, dance classes, science camps, all the places we visit in our wonderfully ordinary, mundane summer.
Your neighbors, friends, co-workers, small group, classmates, mom on the chair next to you at the pool are all divinely ordained to be with you at that precise moment.
Even when our right now’s feel incredibly ordinary and boringly mundane, they are miraculous.
You are needed, Jesus is needed, in every place you find yourself this summer. The nacho and soda line at the ballpark, the family next to you at the parade, the sweet, image-bearer faces running through the sprinklers in your front yard. They need to be loved, seen, heard, given endless popsicles, and covered in prayer. Listen when they tell you about their life. Ask questions. Share your life with them. Watch their kids. Feed their dogs while they’re on vacation. Invite them over for playdates and hamburgers.
Your calling might not include the hard, needy, extraordinary mission trip this summer but you are living in your ordinary, mundane mission field of your every day, walking around, going to work (and the water park) life.
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.” ~Romans 12:1 (The Message)
Let’s be grateful for our ordinary, miraculous mundane days. Let’s remember Jesus goes with us to our pools and sprinklers and 4th of July picnics.
He’s not upset with us for enjoying the life He’s graciously given us.
He simply wants us to acknowledge He is always with us, serve the people He places around us, and offer Him our gratitude for even the regular, every day, summer fun things we get to do.
Father, we are grateful.