Today’s Forecast: Mundane with a 100 Percent Chance of Miraculous
There was no way the crusted blueberry bits were going to come off of my husband’s cup without some serious work on my part. I started talking to myself aloud (do you do this too?). “I don’t have time for this,” I mumbled. I gritted my teeth and set to scrubbing with vigor, and when Dave passed by the kitchen I let out an exasperated sigh and exaggerated my scrubbing efforts. “Gee, I hope I can get this cup clean. You didn’t rinse it out.”
Dave apologized and said he had simply forgotten.
“How rude,” I thought. “He knows how much work I do. The least he could have done was rinse out the cup. Rude . . .” But really, I was the rude one, and I knew it. The Holy Spirit brought to mind the famous love passage in 1 Corinthians 13 “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (1 Cor. 13:4–8). The New International Version translates verse 8 as “love never fails.”
I knew I had failed to show love. Again. I fail at this every day. What hope is there for me to sacrificially give my life away as Jesus did, when I can’t even love others by doing something so menial like washing dishes? My only hope must be in the God who is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Ex. 34:6).
Does God Rule Your Mundane?
This is such a stereotypical example of my life. I’m the wife of a busy church planter and mother to three kids, four years old and under. We live in the Middle East where sand seeps into every crack in the windows and doors and leaves a gritty film all over the floor for me to sweep. I do eight loads of laundry and clip four sets of fingernails and toenails each week.
My life is all things ordinary.
That’s why I loved writing this book. I need this message of grace and hope every single day. That’s because sometimes I launch into full-blown pity parties like the one you just read about. I used to think this sour kind of attitude about homemaking was necessary, acceptable, and even a rite of passage. After all, a common encouragement to someone in the midst of the trenches in homemaking or raising children is to console them with thoughts of “this, too, shall pass.” We “grin and bear it” and talk about every- thing we’re going to do “someday” when we “get our real life back.”
Those colloquial phrases used to be the summation of my hope. I believed that if I could just get through this awful and seemingly interminable season, then I would come out on the other side bruised and worn down; but at least it would be over. Perhaps then I would be free to serve the Lord with gladness, and I would be content.
But I was wrong. When I attended a marriage conference taught by Paul Tripp, he said something that devastated me. Tripp said, “If God doesn’t rule your mundane, then he doesn’t rule you. Because that’s where you live.” Dramatic, life-altering moments come only a few times during our lifetime—that’s why they’re dramatic. The rest of our lives are lived in the common, ordinary mundane.
Home managing is my ordinary. Regardless of what your normal is, I’m sure we can agree that that’s where we live.
Glorify God in Whatever You Do
I know that serving my family is akin to serving Jesus, and when I manage my home I should work as unto the Lord. Colossians 3:23–24 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”
I already believed Scripture, as it extols the role of a homemaker as worth tremendous value. I had no problem seeing homemaking as meaningful in light of eternity. Eternal perspective? Got it. But what about today? How is today included in the scope of eternity? Tripp’s comment reminded me that the Bible has a lot to say about the mundane. First Corinthians 10:31 says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
Yes! Of course I want to glorify God! He is the supreme treasure of the universe, and he is worthy of my everything. At the core of my being, my greatest desire it to bring glory to God. I’ve even considered stenciling the Westminster Catechism on my wall to remind me of this truth:
“What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”(Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 1)
Whether I ought to make my goal glorifying God in everything was not in question. I knew that living for his glory is to be my greatest joy. My problem was simply how? How can I fold laundry and settle sibling squabbles to God’s glory when I am so prone to failure because of my sin? How does the gospel make me into a woman who scrubs toilets or wipes runny noses heartily as for the Lord? How does the gospel make me into a woman who cares about honoring God in the way I fold laundry and serve dinner?
Diapers Can Set Your Heart and Mind on Things Above
If the Word of God is for everyday people who do everyday things, then surely Scripture talks about how we can magnify God in the midst of the mundane. And if the mundane moments of dishes and diapers can be done with an aim to enjoying God, then the spiritual vitality we will experience in our home is nothing short of miraculous.
The opportunity for growth in holiness lies right in front of your face—sitting in the tepid dishwasher, festering in the laundry basket, at your crowded dinner table, and under the car seat where your toddler stashed her leftover granola bar for later. Sure, fuzzy mold might be growing there, but in these moments it is also where growth in holiness happens.
Right where we are, we can see glimpses of grace as we learn to apply passages like Colossians 3:1–3 which says, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
God powerfully brings our ministry to fruition and our deeds done in faith (2 Thess. 1:11). So, that umpteenth dirty diaper, when viewed in light of the hope and promises in God’s Word, can be a significant means of God’s transforming work in your life. Dirty dishes in the sink or red crayons smushed into an electrical socket by a curious toddler are not just worrisome ordeals in your otherwise uneventful day. They’re opportunities to see glimpses of grace.
From Glimpses of Grace by Gloria Furman copyright ©2013. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.
Gloria Furman is a wife, mother of three young children, doula, and blogger. In 2008 her family moved to the Middle East to plant Redeemer Church of Dubai where her husband, Dave, serves as the pastor. She is the author of Glimpses of Grace and blogs regularly at The Gospel Coalition and Domestic Kingdom.