I have been thinking a lot about the ordinariness of life. And it has been a comfort.
I often get confused and caught up with the big moments of life. The proposals and the marriages and the babies and the landmark moments. Or, if you are single like me, finishing the degrees and graduating and getting a job and waiting for all of the other aforementioned things to start. The problem with living this way is that we neglect the day-to-day. In other words, we forget that how we live matters – and it matters as much (or, I might argue, even more so!) on a mundane Monday as it does on the day you walk down the aisle to marry your spouse, or have your first child, or watch your child get married.
Life is culmination of a lot of moments. The spiritual life is a culmination of moments that sometimes look the same. God working and using and moving – to help us finish degrees, and get jobs, and maybe meet spouses, and raise children to know and to love the Lord.
But he is also working to teach us about himself, and to make us like himself. And it seems like there’s more of this going on in the day-to-day, in the days that seem so ordinary and trivial, than in the hallmark moments captured by a professional photographer and framed on your mantle.
He is working in the stillness. In the silence. In the moments that seem as ordinary as they come. In the days that seem so ordinary and plain, and full of rhythm and routine. In predictability. With the 6:30am run, and eating dinner at 7pm each night, and the nightly ritual of devotional reading and fictional reading and a few laughs with the Gilmore Girls. Which perhaps is also why the Christian life is more of a marathon, and less of a sprint. A long obedience in the same direction, they say.
It is why there is true value in finding joy in the mundane. In making each day holy. In finding rest in a simple house, on a simple street, with flowers in the kitchen. With the rhythmic motion of drying and putting away the turquoise Fiestaware. With the smell of brewing coffee as the sun rises. With the thud of my feet against the pavement, muscles aching, as I finish the second and the third mile in the run.
The Lord has taught me a lot over the last year of my life. But the lesson that perhaps overarches every lesson is this: “Don’t pass by today.” Days are short. Lifetimes sometimes seem shorter. Gone in the blink of an eye. Death and transfers and moves and changes. And who knows if any of us will make it to those milestone moments? The ones on the mantle?
The joy in those photographs is not artificial. It’s not manufactured. It’s real, I know.
But there’s also joy in the normalness of today. In watering the flowers on the front porch. In waving to my neighbor. In settling down roots that grow deep – perhaps not wide, but deep – into ministry and living life together with a roommate and a community pushing me constantly toward Christ. In watching the sun set and marveling at his goodness, and that he does it all over again, over, and over.
I want to be found faithful in the big things, but oh, how the little things make the big things. How daily faithfulness and pursuit of Christ and surrender to myself are the tiny pebbles which lead to the big moments. Which help me to know how to respond in the big hard moments – in the deaths and job transfers and changes and moves. The hard work of preaching and reproaching the gospel to myself each day, learning a bit more of what it means to be a child of God.
Andrew Peterson compares it to planting trees. I think it is a helpful metaphor. Digging in the ground, shovel by shovel. A small maple tree planting. Water and sun and wind and rain and elements and time and days and months and years pass. And the tree grows, slowly, surely, it grows.
Let go of all that’s passing
Lift up the least of these
Lean into something lasting –