If you look closely, there are many days you would see me watch the clock for 5pm when my husband is due to arrive home from work, or 7:30pm when the children all go to bed. On those days, my mission is pure survival until such a time that I can finish my mundane tasks, put my feet up, and sit in silence recuperating from a day in the chaotic company of my five wonderful children. Do you clench your teeth from Monday to Friday in order to reach the weekend, or count the days from one holiday to another?
Our everyday lives are filled with routines and rhythm, many of which may not seem particularly enjoyable, let alone spiritual. Colossians 1:27 tells us that for those whose hope is in Jesus, ‘Christ [is] in us, the hope of glory’. How can we trace Christ in all our everyday moments so that we see with fresh eyes that there are no mundane moments too small for God’s glory to shine through?
Look with me at the big sweep of God’s eternal plan and see glimpses of how to redeem our everyday moments for God’s glory.
From the creation accounts at the beginning of Genesis we know that God created something from nothing by his Word. He made the sun rise and set each day and he ordained seasons that shape the years. In a world without sin there was repetition and predictability, and God saw that it was good, because it reflected who he is. He is a God of order and not chaos, of deliberate, thoughtful design and not chance.
We may feel like our days merge into each other with the necessity of mundane chores and routine, but as we tidy away the toys every evening, empty and refill the laundry basket, or when we sit in traffic on our daily commute to the job that the Lord gave us in this season, we’re reflecting a God who delighted in structure and declared that it was good. We too can provide structure and safety that reflects the goodness of God for those under our care when we provide daily meals, do the laundry, teach lessons, and turn up at the same time and same place for our weekly commitments. Just because something is repetitive doesn’t mean it can’t be good. May God give us fresh eyes to see his intricate care even in the seemingly inconsequential everyday things.
The perfect order of Genesis 1 and 2 didn’t last very long. By Genesis 3, Adam and Eve had gone their own way. Romans 1:25 describes how humanity ‘exchanged the truth of God for a lie’. Eve was no longer content with the ordinary, she became discontented. Are there similar seeds of discontent in our hearts as we secretly or openly long for something extraordinary?
We may have unfulfilled expectations about our marital status, family plans, career paths or living arrangements. Where do we look for satisfaction or a distraction in those times? Is it social media, Netflix, a busy social life, planning nice holidays, spending time with family or avoiding said family? These things are good gifts from God but they can never satisfy us as our ultimate goal. If we are honest, we see that we often try to find our identity in what we can do rather than in who we are as image bearers of God. If we want to find joy in the everyday, we need the work of Jesus in our lives.
Right from Genesis 3:15, God promised a way of rescue and redemption for those who trust in him. That rescue came in the form of Jesus Christ, fully man and fully God. He came to earth and lived an ordinary childhood, worked an ordinary life with his carpenter father and obeyed his mother in ordinary ways. His ordinary life culminated in an extraordinary death as he paid the price for the sin that separates us all from a holy God. We need to be reminded that Christ died for the ungodly (Rom. 5:6), a category that we all fall into. Under the shadow of the cross we are all equal, we are all sinners in need of salvation. That frees us from the bind of comparing ourselves with others by either longing for a better life, or priding ourselves that we have it better than those around us.
Hebrews 12 exhorts us to ‘fix our eyes on Jesus…to consider him…so that we will not grow weary and lose heart’ (Heb. 12:2-3). I have many weary days as a mother of five. I struggle with repeated frustrations and impatience. I often lose heart when it seems like the children (and myself) make little progress. What’s the antidote? To look to Jesus. We are accepted before the Father and indwelt by the Holy Spirit because of what Christ achieved on the cross, and that is what enables us not necessarily to live extraordinary lives, but to appreciate and use our mundane moments for God’s glory and other people’s good. The extraordinary in us enables us to do the ordinary for Christ’s sake.
We know that Jesus has won the war against sin but the battle still rages around us. Our battle might be over difficult children, educational choices, endless bills, an empty womb, an empty home, anger, lust, a stagnant marriage, a selfish spirit, an empty bank account, wayward children or dying parents. One day Jesus will come back and make all things new. One day we will see Jesus in all his beauty, we will worship him forever and every day will be filled with his glory.
Until then, we live in this tension where sin remains yet the Spirit grows in us new life and good fruit. We can rest because we belong to Christ. The power that raised him from the dead is the same power that’s in us too. The Spirit provides all we need to be patient, kind, loving, long-suffering, faithful and gentle towards our housemates, neighbours, spouses, friends, our church communities and others around us. The world around us doesn’t affirm ordinary faithfulness, but Jesus does. Trust that he is in those moments with you. He has given us his Spirit to help and strengthen us, not just to do the hard things but also the mundane things, for his glory.
Melissa Kruger writes:
Whatever God has called you to, faithfully fulfil the ministry you’ve received from him. Ordinary lives can produce extraordinary fruit…Our everyday moments might be ordinary, but when we accomplish them whilst displaying the fruit of the Spirit they reflect our extraordinary Saviour.
(Quote taken from ‘Sisters, you have permission to lead an ordinary life’, published by The Gospel Coalition).