Don’t discount the mundane, the 24/7. It may be the very place God is going to meet you. You may feel imprisoned by the ordinary in your life but He wants to empower you to look beyond and see His presence in all things.
Brother Lawrence modeled this – living in the Presence of Christ as an ordinary kitchen worker in a French monastery in an earlier time (1600- 1691) torn and uncertain as our own day. During his boyhood the Thirty Years war began, which engulfed all of Europe. From his conversations and letters, published and translated in The Practice the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence intimately shares his struggle to know and experience the presence of God in the middle of confusion, opposition and temptation. His was an ordinary, obscure life in the midst of the clanging and clattering of pots and pans, yet his life speaks to us today centuries later.
In Care of the Soul Thomas Moore offers – “you work with what is rather than what you wish were there; to the soul the ordinary is sacred” (9); loving and caring for the people God sets in front of you.
This requires a shift in perspective from being bored with the ordinary to understanding the ordinary as an opportunity to be embraced and engaged in. Expecting God to show up each day in your everydayness aligns your focus and frees you to see beyond whatever is it that you wish were not.
My grandmother, a pastor’s wife and young widow, lived this, simply taking the opportunities before her. Because she did not drive she walked several blocks many times to sit with, comfort and encourage a mom and her son who was recuperating from losing his leg in a bicycle bus accident. She sewed our clothes. She kept house for my mom and me. Her gentle and unassuming, quiet kindness in her everydayness 24/7 marked everyone that knew her.
Tish Warren in her book Liturgy of the Ordinary, Sacred Practices in Everyday Life writes - “This Kingdom vision – our identity as those blessed and sent – must work itself out in the small routines of our daily work and vocation as we go to meetings, check our email, make our children dinner, or mow the lawn.” (93)
I discovered the first few months after we moved to our overseas assignment that the status of “serving God” did not change the reality of the 24/7. I was surprised that the everydayness of my life continued. We still had to eat, sleep, deal with housing, doctors and groceries with the added stress of doing it in another language.
We live in the ordinariness of life wherever no matter where or what. The everydayness while living in this foreign country continued with the necessity of a greater dependence on God. Realizing that the ordinary is sacred provides an empowering motivation to view the repetitive day in and day out with purpose. The ritual of ironing my husband’s all cotton shirts became the best time to pray since sending them to the cleaners was not an option.
In Theology of the Ordinary Julie Canlis makes an important, critical distinction in articulating the theology that lies beneath all this talk of the “holy ordinary” –
“This theology must be marked by the benediction of the Father, the sacrifice of the Son and the overflow of the Spirit. A robust Trinitarian theology of the ordinary will not undermine being passionate or sold out but will ground and purify it.”(3)
My personal take-aways from thinking about the everydayness of the ordinary:
I have a God given mandate on how to live in everydayness. Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to the God the Father.”
I can choose to do this in the 24/7 – Psalm 145:2 “Everyday will I bless you and praise your name forever and ever.”
I can offer to and encourage our grandchildren with the eternal anchoring of God for all eternity.
Psalm 48:12-14 “Walk about Zion, go around her, consider well her ramparts, view her citadels that you may tell of them to the next generation. For this God is our God forever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.”
If this topic has perked your thinking consider these really good reads:
Canlis, Julie. Theology of the Ordinary.Wenatchee,WA: Godspeed Press, 2017.
Moore, Thomas. Care of the Soul, A Guide for Cultivating Sacredness in Everyday Life New York: Harper Collins, 1992.
Lawrence, Brother.Ed. Donald E. Demaray. The Practice of the Presence of God .Grand Rapids, MI:Baker Book House.1975
Warren, Tish Harrison. Liturgy of the Ordinary, Sacred Practices in Everyday Life. Downers Grove, IL:InterVarsity Press. 2016.