The dictionary defines Mundane as “Something that is typical, ordinary, lacking interest, dull, part of everyday life.” Those often feel like the godless moments, but when we look to scripture that is not the truth of the situation. God is with us, in us, desiring to work through us and in us throughout the day. Every moment can become sacred if we will look for God’s working in it. Today we will look at how God can be found in the midst of the mundane.
Have you ever heard of the book “The Practice of the Presence of God?” It is a Christian classic that Christians have been reading for more than 300 years. It was written by a man known as Brother Lawrence.
You would expect that a Christian classic would be written by a theologian, a pastor or seminary professor, but Brother Lawrence was none of those.
His real name was Nicholas Herman and he was born to peasant parents in Hériménil, France. Because of poverty he joined the army since they guaranteed meals and a small salary. It was during the Thirty-Years War which ruined central Europe from 1618 to 1648. During this time of so much exposure to violence and death, Nicholas had an experience with God that changed Him forever. He was eventually wounded causing him to be permanently lame and forcing him to leave the army.
After recovering at the home of his family he decided to devote his life to following God and knowing more of Christ. At the age of 26 he joined a Carmelite monastery in Paris, as a lay brother, where he took on the name “Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection.” It was there that he was assigned kitchen duty where he cooked and cleaned, obeying the constant commands of his superiors. As the years passed his health and mobility worsened so much so that he was assigned a new task, repairing sandals.
It was in the kitchen and the repairing of sandals that Brother Lawrence served until he died at the age of 80. Some might think, “what a wasted life,” but it was so much more. In the midst of the mundane Brother Lawrence discovered that the presence of God could be found anywhere. In the midst of obscurity and pain he had found joy and contentment.
Toward the end of his life many began to come and hear the counsel of the lowly sandal-maker. Not only the poor, but also the educated and the pious. His humility and spirituality attracted many who sought his deep abiding peace and guidance. After Brother Lawrence’s death his conversations and letters eventually were assembled and became the book, The Practice of the Presence of God. God’s impact through the life of this simple man lives on.
But why are we so surprised that one would find such a strong presence of God in the kitchen and the sandal repair shop? Does God not tell us that He will never leave us or forsake us? That His Spirit dwells within us? Are we not to work as unto Christ? The Lord is near to all who call on him (Psalm 145:18).
That is our goal. That we, too, will find God in the mundane. That our experience with God would not be bound to Sunday services, but that we would find His presence everywhere, everyday. As we seek this end we start by looking to Luke 10:38-42. It reads,
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
In these verses we see a story that is probably not that different from our own lives. Martha was wanting to be hospitable, but in the midst of the “busy-ness” she totally missed out on the fact that she was in the presence of God. Her preparing of tea and cookies could have been infused with the joy of serving the King of kings, but instead it veered towards selfishness because Martha was not helping her.
She was an authentic follower of Christ, but in this moment she was totally oblivious to being in the presence of God. We do the same thing. We get so focused on our job, family, income and responsibilities that we miss the presence of God in our lives. Martha had the Messiah, God in the flesh, seated in her house and yet she was distracted by setting the table and “getting the tea ready.”
We often do the same. God is in our midst, even in the daily routine and we are completely unaware.
Whether it be working towards a deadline at work or studying for a test. . . whether it be buying groceries or mowing the grass. . . whether it be in the changing of diapers or making our way through rush hour traffic. . . for those who have eyes to see, God is near and can be found even in the mundane.
Colossians 3:23-24 declares, “23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
As we saw in the story of Brother Lawrence, it is not the simple things of life that prevent our being in the presence of God. It is the simple things of life that have the power to usher us into His presence as we do them unto Christ.
It is as we serve Christ in the mundane, that even the simplest of work becomes sacred.
There is an interesting word in the Great Commission that encourages us in the same direction.
In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus commands His followers to, “19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The word, “go” can also be translated, “as you are going.” That is the idea of how to live the Christian life as well. It is an “as you are going” type of faith. It is not just on Sundays, Wednesdays or during your devotional time. We are to live, actively in the presence of Christ “as we are going” throughout our days.
As believers we are always in the presence of God. Our goal is learning to think on God as we go through our day. Not just thinking, but abiding in Him. Where His presence is the truest reality in our lives and we join Him with His purposes in every moment. In the midst of stress, concern, work or home we should lean into Him knowing that He is with us and will accomplish His will in our lives.
God is our ultimate Discipler. He is the One who works all things for our good in order to make us like Christ (Romans 8:28-29). He uses life to strengthen our character and to grow our faith.
Philippians 2:13 says, “It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Jesus teaches that God is always working (John 5:17). We are now tasked with seeing where He is working and joining Him (John 5:19).
In this God will use our everyday life situations and relationships as our greatest opportunities for ongoing sanctification and evangelism. Church discipleship classes are good, but nothing can make us like Christ like real life situations.
Parenting exposes the spiritual condition of our hearts, much like marriage does, so receive it and allow yourself to be made more into the likeness of Christ as you parent your children. It will take you to a greater depth of servanthood, selflessness, and humility. It will reveal your character flaws when you are tired, frustrated and not sure what to do. It will at times drive you to your knees and a greater dependence on God, so accept it. Swim with the current of God and not against it. Recognize that God is working in the situation. Be shaped by the challenge of parenting.
Because parenting is an overflow of one’s heart, commit today to make your spiritual life a priority. Not just for your good, but for the good of the entire family. Finding that moment to have a peaceful devotional time may now seem impossible but develop the ability to make room for God in every situation. You may no longer have uninterrupted time for a long Bible reading with your favorite kind of coffee; however it may be that you grow more in those middle of the night feeding times or when consoling a baby who won’t stop crying. Let God work in the midst of the situations and be amazed by how quickly God will make you more like Jesus as you acknowledge His presence and and join Him in His purpose for every situation.
If we are honest, we must admit that marriage and parenting are ideal settings for us to be refined into the image of Christ. Iron sharpens iron. It is in the challenges of family life that we are bound in permanent relationships and forced to turn to God to find a way to live out the Christian life.
The same applies to those who are not married. Whether it be single, divorced, widowed or just presently living in a different country from your spouse, these situations, too, have their unique struggles and opportunities for spiritual growth. Join God in this season of life and watch what He will do in your life as you do.
God can also be found in the midst of our workplace. Work is an ideal place to be made like Christ and to also share the good news of Jesus with others. Work as unto Christ and seek to recognize His presence in every moment. His presence adds purpose and even joy to the most mundane of tasks. I say that thinking of the joy of relationship. Have you noticed when you are with those that you love that the joy is not based on the doing, it comes from simply being with them. As we grow in our love for Christ and grow to acknowledge and remember His constant presence, like Brother Lawrence, even in the mundane we can find joy, because we are with Him.
This same principle applies throughout our lives. As we look for God’s work in our situations, as we grow confident that God is working all things for our good, it becomes a habit to look for God in every situation. In the midst of bad traffic what is God working in me? In the midst of a difficult work environment what is God working in and through me? In the midst of my response to stress and worry what is God showing me about myself? Through our emotions what is God revealing to us about our hearts and our desires? In the midst of our relationships how is God wanting to use us to be a blessing to others?
Life will bring good and bad to us all. Will we take the time to stop and find where God is working in our lives? If so, God will never waste an opportunity to make us into a person after God’s Own Heart. The greatness of God is present all around us.
Through prayer invite God into your daily situations.
Creatively remind yourself of the constant presence of God until it becomes your permanent reality.
Look for what God is doing in every circumstance. . . and join Him.
Work as unto Christ, letting His presence be the source of your joy.
Remember that you are on mission every day. Because of this no matter where we work or what we do, we have the privilege of pointing others towards Jesus.
In Philippians 4:8 Paul instructed His readers to think on truth. This word for truth was similar to holy or set apart. It usually was used to describe the gods and the temples of the gods. William Barclay notes that, “When this word was used to describe man, it describes a person who, as it has been said, moves throughout the world as if it were the temple of God.” That is an interesting idea. In these words Paul is bringing to mind that we should live a life of worship at all times, no matter where we are, as if “the world is the temple of God.” The world is God´s and He is everywhere. We are always in His presence. His presence is not only at church on Sunday. The Philippians were to live a life of constant worship.
We are a truly blessed people. The Holy Spirit dwells in us. We are not alone. We are not orphans. We are not lost, not defeated, not forgotten and not beyond hope. For those of us who have repented of our sin and believed in Jesus Christ we are now children of the Most High God whose Spirit lives within us.
With this in mind let us close fixing our minds on these verses.
Genesis 139:7-10, 7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”