About five years ago, my husband and I moved into a neighborhood with a whole lot of kids and not a lot of privilege. We meant to flip the house, but the market flopped and we moved into the house out of necessity.
That temporary little change of plans changed everything, ourselves included. The mission field had slipped in under our feet. No longer could we talk about mission projects and ministry opportunities as a distant concept. No longer could we just go about our daily life unware. Christian living started to look less and less like Sunday morning attendance with a topping of Bible studies on plush couches.
Our home became a neighborhood center that year, one that now has kids sprawled across our front porch with hot Cheetos and sticky juice boxes. Bikes and candy wrappers and missing flip-flops tend to litter that front yard, the place where no grass dare grow for fear of being trampled.
And here, with a front yard for a sanctuary and a muddied porch for a pulpit, God began teaching us to live out our faith in the everyday.
Here, He’s been showing us how Christian living means integrating our daily life with divine purposes. It calls us to no longer compartmentalize the sacred and the secular, but to usher in God’s authority to the mundane and mess of our everydays. It prompts us to believe that “being used by God” isn’t so much about what we do. No, thankfully, it’s about our identity in Jesus Christ and the degree to which we surrender our everything to His purposes – the car pool, the play dates, the front porches, our homes, our families, our schedules and everything in between.
Certainly, it’s common, even easy, to talk about God among pews and worship music. It’s acceptable to pray quietly. It’s natural to share our faith and quote Scripture with Bibles in our hands and stained glass at our backs. Then Monday morning buzzes in with the 6:00am alarm, and the music and the prayers and the sermon notes start to fade slightly. How can a sacred mission be part of the mundane of Monday mornings? Where is a holy purpose in the dirt and the daily routine? Here are 5 suggestions for finding and embracing the everyday divine, every single day:
1. Embrace your identity – Living with a divine mission isn’t just for the pastors or the missionaries. Instead, begin to accept your day job and your career as a means by which God can engage your world. Maybe you are a child of God who teaches or a Christian who does taxes for people or a Jesus-follower who is raising kids. Your job description is a gateway to loving and blessing a unique blend of people, all close to God’s heart. Lay those work hours out before Him and see how He moves in your day.
2. Pray for people – It sounds simple but it requires your heart. When you are sitting at the park or wandering through the produce section or prepping for a meeting at work, spend time intentionally praying for the people in your path. After all, of all the people in the world, those individuals are crossing paths with you today. Talk to God about that. What may be going on in their lives? How can you open your life to them? Pray for God to give you eyes to see them as He does.
3. Change your perspective on home – Our homes are the most natural extension of ourselves. May you see your home as a place of gathering and blessing, a resource that God can use to minister to others in the everyday of living. Often in Western mindsets, our homes are seen only as our own and our private sanctuaries. While a place to rest is necessary at times, this mentality keeps ministry and living out our faith at arm’s length, rather than in the casual, common places of our daily life. Open your door. Don’t apologize for the mess – just welcome people and share the life God’s given you.
4. Practice empathy everyday – Life can be complex with daily headlines and news stories that make us want to scroll and stroll by rather than choosing to enter into someone’s pain. But integrating our faith with our everyday means caring deeply about our present world and the people in it, letting reality settle in a bit and affect our prayers, our routine, our priorities. Be aware and care. May your prayers be fueled with God’s perspective and your heart be willing to weep over your Lazaruses.
5. Love people – I’ve come to understand in greater depths the cost of really loving someone while living here in this neighborhood. Relationships do not come with manuals or easy exits. They get unbelievably messy. But God loves relationships, and He created a beautifully mind-blowing relationship within His own person – the Trinity. He routinely uses people to speak into my life, and He especially uses the black-eyed, band-aid-begging kids on this street to shape my heart. That’s divine, and it can happen everyday. So, share life with others in meaningful ways in the mundane as well as the special moments. Take risks and be vulnerable with those closest to you. Make new friends. Choose to make your richest investments of time, energy, attention, and resources into the eternal souls around you.
May your days be divine, filled with glimpse of His purpose and plans for your life. May He be near on this day and everyday.
Anne Dahlhauser blogs at Front Porch, Inspired about surrendering everyday living for sacred purposes. She and her husband, Jay, are founders of a ministry called The Bridge, focusing on missional living, training, and intercultural relationships. She holds an MA in Teaching Languages (English and Spanish) and is a lover of words and the Word, culture and communication. Jay and Anne have four young kids, a front door that can’t stay closed, and an abundance of messy, holy chaos at their neighborhood center/home in Iowa – of all places.