Meeting God in the Mystery of the Mundane

Mundane work often loses its value for us, but God has his fingerprint on it.

Why do we let glamorous things push the mundane into the margins of life?

Three years in, it was time to dull our marriage. We declared it “the year of no big things.” So for one year we decided that we we would not change our jobs, plan to have children, move house, or add another pet to our household.

The adrenaline of our adventures had left us tired. Sneaking sideways glances at the stories around us made me lose the page in our own. I began to see that it was not milestones that prodded a marriage forward, it was maintenance.

The boring motion of swishing onions in oil makes them ready to eat. A wardrobe is run by the repetitive relay of washing, hanging up, and folding laundry.

Showing up for someone year after year is the making of a friendship. A fire is kept alive by the stroking of an arm. Every truly glamorous marriage is a faithfulness in the mundane.

Resisting the Mundane

I resist work in the mundane because it is quiet and hidden. No one is watching and no one applauds you. “What is the point?” says my people-pleasing heart.

Mundane work is slow work, with long spells of monotony. Why do we have to scrub a sink to clean it? Why do I need to rest to get better? Why do we need to tend to our marriage?

In the church calendar, we have advent, Christmas, Lent, Good Friday, and Easter. Sometimes I arrive at these milestones and wonder why I feel spiritually unprepared or disconnected from God.

The Spirit inhabits our dying bodies, making every moment holy.

Then I try to muster a sort of quick-fix faith, just so the holy celebration does not whizz past. Even when I sit at my desk to write an article like this, I feel a little tug in my heart asking, “Why do I look to God retroactively?”

I realise: I want to be sanctified, I do not want sanctification.

Remembering the Mundane

We were made to stroll with the Father in the cool of every evening like Adam and Eve once did.

When they sinned and we followed, Jesus chose the mundane pursuit of our roaming hearts. Monotonously, again and again, and again.

The Spirit inhabits our dying bodies, making every moment holy.

Mundane work often loses its value for us, but God has his fingerprint on it.

Zerubbabel was the governor of Judah, who began rebuilding the Jewish temple in Jerusalem after the Babylonians tore it down. He laid the foundations of the temple, but it was hard to carry on work.

In Ezra 4, the Bible records that many locals began to thwart the building plans, by trying to intimidate the Israelites and by sending government officials to work against them.

Later, in Zechariah 4, nearly seventeen years after Zerubbabel had been toiling to build a temple to the God of Israel, God sent a message through his prophet Zechariah.

God’s constant glory is available for us, if only we would not reject the mundane.

Then the Lord said that Zerubbabel, who had started building the temple, would be the one to finish it. Zerubbabel would accomplish this only through the Spirit of God.

Then God posed a rhetorical question: “Who dares despise the day of small things?” (Zechariah 4:10 NIV).

Often it can feel like we are compressing years of mundane work into a long day of small things. But God uses these daily markers to tell us again and again that he is faithful.

God’s constant glory is available for us if only we would not reject the mundane. 

Receiving the Mundane

In these tiny mundane moments, we learn of our vulnerability and unfaithfulness.

David was merely walking around on the roof of his palace, one evening when he laid his eyes on Bathsheba.

So Peter alerts us: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8).

We need the gospel in the mundane because we are sinful creatures who hide in the crevices of our days.

Following Christ is walking the monotonous path where our unfaithfulness is met with his faithfulness. Again, and again, and again.