Finding Meaning in the Mundane
- Thursday, January 02, 2014
Do you ever feel like your days run endlessly together? Wake up, go to work, come home to innumerable chores, go to bed, repeat. Where is the abundant life God promised? Are you missing it? Is it possible to find purpose in the predictable and meaning in the mundane?
If we are followers of Christ, the answer is yes, for nothing done in surrendered obedience is ever wasted. At each moment, God uses our mundane, earthly experiences to train and equip us for something greater, to center our thoughts on the eternal, and to be active participants in his outpouring of love and grace. Living God’s great adventure is not a matter of location or vocation, but rather, a continual process of heart and mind transformation.
When considering my never-ending laundry pile, I’m reminded of young Daniel Larusso from The Karate Kid. Uprooted from his home and planted in a hostile environment, he sought help from a karate-extraordinaire Sensei. The Sensei agreed to train Daniel in the art of karate, only to assign the teen countless menial tasks. Wax on, wax off, paint right, paint left. Day after day, Daniel wore himself out performing the mundane.
Of course, those of us who watched the movie knew Daniel’s tasks were anything but menial. Each one honed his physical, mental, and inner strength, transforming him from an insecure teen into a confident warrior. Daniel’s focus was quite narrow. His goal? To survive high school without getting pummeled. His Sensei, however, wanted to see Daniel not merely survive, but instead, to thrive.
This is God’s goal for us as well. He hears our every prayer, most of which come from short-term, temporal perspectives. We want to make it through the day without going insane or falling into a major depression. But God longs to grant us so much more, and he has a clear and determined plan to lift us above our drudgery so that we can grab hold of the extraordinary! He begins this journey not on the mission field or award podium, but instead, in the human heart.
“Many evangelicals add crazy stress to their life wondering what God wants them to do when what he primarily cares about is who we become,” Nathan Weselake from Portage Alliance Church says. “They worry they are missing out on some amazing plan when God’s intention is to make an amazing person. This perspective redeems our entire lives and means nothing is wasted.”
Pause to consider the successful individuals you know. Look past their actions to their character. Perhaps some rode on family wealth or landed a lucky break, but most inched forward because of hard work, perseverance, patience, and dependability. In fact, I’ve heard coaches say they prefer a hard worker over a natural star any day because ability has a limit. They’ve learned success without struggle is momentary, faltering the moment the first storm hits.
Real success—the kind that sustains a marriage, enables a parent to persevere through teen rebellion, and worker to withstand company upheaval—is birthed in everyday decisions. In those quiet moments where the choice to persevere overrides the desire to run. With each difficult encounter, we have a choice: to seek out the the easy, safe, self-protecting path wrought with temporary pleasures, or to stand firm in faith and character, regardless of what God allows to come our way. Because strength grows in the struggle, and God is sovereign in our joys and trials. This means, when we encounter a hostile boss or coworker, a demotion or a financial set-back, it is because God allowed it. If God allowed it, he intends to bring good from it. His good might look different than we expected, but regardless of our ability to see or comprehend it, we can rest in the knowledge that he always has our best in mind. And being the all-knowing, all powerful, all-loving God he is, he has a glorious way of working out our best while using us to bring about the best in others. God’s ultimate best for mankind is that each of us would turn from a life of sin and self-destruction to one centered on him.
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