Something I have been learning about is the magic of ordinary days. God has a way of making small things, things we see as mundane, quite beautiful. He has been teaching me how important it is to live in holiness and happiness in every small moment of our lives. As we thank him for our meals, we see that he chose to make sweet raspberries with their bitter seeds to thrill our palates, and that he made vegetables such a dazzling array of colours from the golden of a pineapple to the deep purple of an eggplant. The stars that shine every night tell us of his glory, the way that our skin knits together as new after a scrape tells of his redemption, and the bubbling laughter of a child whispers the simple joy of the new heaven and the new earth. Each of these moments in our daily lives is an intentional pointer to the true realities of God in the gospel. And how do we walk with him, and feel the weight of all these small moments? We are able to (and ask for his help to be able to) be grateful for our mouths that munch and brush our teeth with diligence, inhale the sweet perfume of fresh laundry and fold the fabric that clothes us with humility, and behold the sunset each day with praise and delight. As one who knows every hair on our head (a number that changes daily), God is intensely attentive to the details of our lives. If God, as Chesterton hints at, exults in the pattern of every individual daisy (each designed, created, sustained, and pointing to his glory), our daily livings are designed by his sovereignty, used to create, and sustain our characters as saints and children of God, and able to glorify him as we are faithful (for we are reminded that all that we do, whether we eat or drink, should be to the glory of God).
Sometimes I have rather grand notions of what it means to follow God – that a meaningful, spiritual life requires going off to a foreign land and being a missionary, or writing a book, or preaching to a crowd. I realize, however, that I might have become a little puffed up in both how I measure meaning and have a twisted need to feel like something has worth only when I contribute significant effort to it. When Naaman sought a cure, he could not fathom how the solution could be a simple dip in the river. Perhaps he felt insulted at the smallness of the task, and the overall lack of grandeur of the event. Being the accomplished warrior he was, I wonder if Elisha had asked him to conquer a neighboring nation or hike the tallest mountain to find some rare flower, if he would not have done it readily. Giving up our own standards for measuring efficacy and turning to such a small task, requires trusting in God and not ourselves to make real good out of it. It is hard not to doubt whether it is worthwhile, but there is also relief in knowing that God-glorifying joy and purpose can be found in everyday moments. It all counts, it all means something, and nothing is ever, ever wasted. This is a call not to be small-minded, but for our dreams and vision of this life to expand, encompass the sum total of our life, as all a testimony for grace, and not just what we feel are the big-ticket items.
Is not God more concerned with the state of our heart, and how we do something rather than what we do, after all? It seems to me that courage has a lot more to do with faithfulness. I would like to say, that when it comes down to it, if someone asked me to stand for Christ and lose my life, I would choose Christ. But it seems, I have much smaller choices in front of me. Will I take the twenty minutes I planned ahead of time to pray, or forgo it to study for an exam? Will I ask my friend a hard question, or stay on lighter topics? Will I send that note, will I hit the snooze button, will I tell my brother I love him? Will I fudge, just a little, what I finished working on this week, just to look good in front of someone else? If I cannot take on the cost of a single disappointed look, and choose to be honest, can I really give my life to Christ? The road to discipline, and discipleship, are usually much smaller acts of faithfulness. And so, it is quite the task to remember the magnitude of the gift of today and press into deeper obedience and delight for every small choice and every small grace.
“It all matters. That someone turns off the lamp, says hello to the invalid, listens to the repeated tale, folds the abandoned laundry, plays the game fairly, acknowledges help, gives credit, says goodnight, resists temptation, wipes the counter, makes the bed, tips the waitress, remembers the illness, congratulated the successes, accepts the consequences, takes a stand, steps up, offers a hand, goes first, goes last, chooses the small portion, teaches the child, tends to the dying, comforts the grieving, removes the splinter, wipes the tear, directs the lost, touches the heart. What is most beautiful, is least acknowledged. What is worth dying for is barely noticed.” -L. McBride
But, indeed, it is noticed by Him.
Funnily enough, though I wrote this reflection last week for a friend, it repeats a lot of the themes D.S. mentioned in A Review of 2020.
Photo credit: Mitchel Lensink