I often get a sense of “Been there, done that.”
I wake up at the same time, eat the same breakfast, go to the same job, and come home to the same place. Even in the midst of a pandemic, it’s easy to settle into a routine. “New normal,” is the new buzzword. At first it was novel. But now, as we do things a little or a lot differently than at the beginning of the year, we can get used to this time, sliding into our new same routines.
Deadlines and conference calls, clocking in and clocking out – eight hours of work. That sameness can, like a monotonous tone, lull me into thoughtlessness, and even discouragement.
I have been trained by the culture and my own heart to desire greatness. “Be a world-changer; be an influencer; make something big of your life; be noticed.”
But I think there’s something God teaches us during these days just as much as he teaches us during the exciting and extraordinary ones. One of my friends reminded me of this when we discussed it recently.
“I find that mundanity truly tests our perseverance and many other qualities,” he told me.
His words rang true in my weary ears, and they reminded me of another article I read recently that compared this current time with the wilderness period of the Israelites.
For 40 years, the Israelites went through many of the same days, weeks, months and years. The journey began with a bang. Ten plagues on their Egyptian slave masters. Fire by night. The parting of the Red Sea. Calamitous, exciting times. Then disobedience, betrayal and unfaithfulness led to their current predicament in the wilderness. Destined to roam homeless for 40 years, waiting for those who disobeyed to perish in the land. God’s judgement.
Wake up. Gather manna. Check if the smoke over the tent of meeting, which signified God’s presence, still hovered or had moved during the night. If it hovered, they remained, if it moved, they moved. Then go about their day. It was tedious. It was tiring.
I am the same.
I want the highlights of the Christian life. I desire the big acts of faith, standing on the soapboxes, grabbing the ears of the culture and shouting to them, “Jesus Saves!” I desire the pilgrimages, going once or twice a year to conferences and retreats to get my spiritual highs. I don’t often see my daily life, filled with its ups and downs, starts and stops, frustrations and joys, as what the Christian walk truly is: a long obedience in the same direction.
Am I living from Sunday to Sunday, from the Lord’s Day to the Lord’s Day, and not truly seeing the days in between as equally made by the Lord?
It often feels like that. Monday through Saturday (really Monday through Friday) are my weekly wilderness period of doing the same things.
Again, Scripture has much to say. If we read it, studying it carefully, we will always be rewarded by its truth. As the Israelites were about to leave the wilderness, Moses reminded them the reason why the Lord had led them along this slow, monotonous, winding way.
His words teach our minds and train our hearts today.
“And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these 40 years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.
“And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”
There’s something about God that we can learn when we settle into the ordinary everyday routines of our lives. God is just as much present in the mundane as he is in the extraordinary.
Paul also reiterates it in the 1 Timothy 2. “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”
Peaceful and quiet lives don’t make the news. They aren’t the ones who get plenty of likes on Facebook or followers on Twitter or Instagram. They aren’t what the world sees as “influencers.” But we are, with few exceptions, called to this life. We pray for our leaders – every one of them – so that we may lead this peaceful, quiet, mundane life.
We remember that through good times and bad, extraordinary events and the mundane, God is still present, working in and through us for his good pleasure.
Joseph Hamrick is a semi-professional writer and sometimes thinker. He lives in Commerce and serves as a deacon at Commerce Community Church (C3).
He can be reached at email@example.com