I’ve been thinking about the mundane a lot. You know, those activities we do where there isn’t a high or low… it just is. Those things we do every week that seem boring, unchallenging, and have this feeling of being devoid of God. But are they? Is God really outside of those events, activities, and parts of our lives? Things like laundry, dishes, bathing, cleaning the garage, taking out the trash, and all those other boring things (boring for me may be a better way to approach it). And ultimately am I to treat that activity as being “outside of God” in any way?
So maybe the question I need to wrestle with is why I see God devoid of these places? Am I so caught up in the boring things that I cannot picture God there? Or maybe it’s that I want to only picture God in the exciting moments of the day? Things like showing love to my kids, cooking for my family, sharing parts of my day with loved ones, asking my children how they acted like Jesus to others, and then clearly doing my “pastor” stuff. To me all those feel, and seem, like “God” moments.
Maybe I need to take a page from David who seemed to praise God while he watched over his sheep. Sure, he praised God when God helped him defend them or even protect himself – but the life of a shepherd was/is more dull than it is exciting. It was more watching, waiting, seeing, and more watching. No excitement there.
Maybe I need to take a page from Paul who seemed to give thanks to God no matter WHERE he was. Prison? Yup. Talking to people? Yup. Selling and making tents (that WAS his occupation)? Yup. House church? Yup. Resting? Yup.
Maybe I need to take a page from Mary or Martha who both, appropriately and in their own ways, worshiped God. What about a page from Samaritan woman at the well who met God in drawing water? The Bible is full of countless stories from people who were doing all sorts of “life” and were able to see, worship, and praise God right where they were.
I’m reminded of Brother Lawrence (born in 1614 and died in 1691) who was a monk in Paris. His job at the monastery? Doing the dishes. DOING THE DISHES! Obviously when you’re in a monastery things need to get done to keep up with the needs of the monks and visitors – but dishes!? I think the only thing worse than this would have been “moping the floors” or “cleaning the toilets.” And clearly being a monk is a way of life and understanding that they signed up for, but Brother Lawrence was clearly gifted in being able to see God in the mundane (my words, not his). I came a cross a quote of his from his book, The Practice of the Presence of God, where he states that our “…sanctification does not depend as much on changing our activities as it does on doing them for God rather than for ourselves.” In other words, the moment we realize that the very thing we are doing is not only FOR God but to be done in his glory, is the moment we begin to worship God in our activity. Every activity.
So that is where I am challenged. Just as I have encouraged married couples to find “joy and love” in doing the laundry together, or dishes together, we ALL can easily be challenged to RECOGNIZE God in those moments we consider dull, boring, and mundane (notice I said “recognize” and not “find” or “look” as if God was hiding somewhere behind the washing machine! “Hey look! I found Jesus!! He was hiding behind the sofa!”).
Does it mean the current “mundane” doesn’t become mundane? Probably…eventually. Does it mean I’m going to still struggle with using that time to glorify God and give him thanks in the silly “mundane” things I have to do? Yup. But I am working on being more cognizant of my daily activities and working on trying to make them less about my actions and more about my heart. Less about me and more about Him. Less about the feeling of monotony and more about the people, and the God, I’m doing it for.