“I can’t wait to see what God does…”
How often I have heard and read those words, typically followed by “next Summer” or some other time in the future after someone gets accepted to some program or makes a major life decision. I do not think it is wise to parse people’s words and miss their meaning. Yet any time we say things so often they become cliches, we do well to think through them. This cliche, in particular, is one I want to dissect.
This is not because I do not find it normal or even healthy to live in anticipation of what God will do. Yet I feel strongly that the small world in which I am a part of typically undervalues what I call the daily, trivial, menial, and mundane. We long for the mission trips, the big job changes, the vacations, the holidays, the summer programs and events. And we can live in anticipation of these things to the detriment of where over 90% of God’s will is lived: in the day-to-day habits and actions that truly form who we are. To say it one way, that can be taken literally and figuratively, we exalt the wedding over the marriage.
Every Fall as I begin to see people get excited because they find out about their summer opportunities and “what God will do,” one thing I want to shout in response is, “Do not wait for God to start ‘doing’ in 8 months. He is working right now. It may be in something predictable or tedious, but he is working.”
In 2013 I got to serve on the staff of a summer ministry that teaches servant leadership to Christian teenagers called “Truth and Peace.” Until I got married those were probably the greatest 17 days of my life—laughing, learning, singing and bonding with adults and amazing teenagers, living the abundant life. Later that summer I got to serve as the evangelist at Camp Hope in Southern Illinois, where I preached ten times in a week and evangelized and counseled many hurting teenagers. I was on Cloud Nine nearly all summer long.
Then it ended and daily life set back in. I’ll never forget the Monday after the camp. I had to get my cholesterol checked because it had been high. I had a bunch of dirty laundry I brought home I had to do. I was hungry that night and, not having a car or a lot of money, I ate something out of a can for dinner. And then had to do dishes. To top it off I was still single and on three dating sites and when I got home and checked them, I had nothing happening on any of them.
Later that week I was at my small group Bible study. And I was complaining to my church brothers and sisters about being single and longing to get married and how I missed Truth and Peace and camp. I kept using phrases like “God’s will” to describe the things I missed and the things I was looking forward to. And a lady in my church, after listening patiently for a while, asked, “Gowdy, what did you do this week?” I said, “I got my cholesterol checked. I did the laundry. I washed the dishes. I even did a Rosetta Stone Polish lesson but did it so badly I had to redo it.” And she said, “Gowdy, why can’t those things be God’s will for your life?”
I do not think I’ll ever get over that question. I tear up thinking about it. To the God who inspired a man to write that whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it for the glory of God, I think her question nails it. Even as a married person now I know that the vast majority of my life with Kayla is not vacations, nice dinners or holidays. It’s doing dishes so the other one doesn’t have to. It’s taking care of each other when we’re sick. It’s conversations about the best way to travel to South Carolina with a 5-month old. It’s often daily, trivial, menial and mundane.
I do not mean to imply that life is boring or dreadful. It is not, most of the time. The real point I want to make here is that when you see Go’s will in the daily, trivial, menial and mundane, they begin to have a purpose. And that keeps life in the non-events from being lifeless. I’ve even discovered there are a ton of menial tasks I actually enjoy doing if my daily focus on God is biblical. I love making a strategy of what to eat for the week, buying groceries and cooking. I love doing the Excel spreadsheets for my church’s treasury. I love keeping on top of making sure Liam’s bottles are clean and ready to be used again. When I am only focused on the big events, however, I find that I am extremely inclined to complain about the daily minutia. Which is exactly what the Israelites did after their vibrant worship service in response to the miraculous Red Sea parting when daily life struggles began.
Jesus likely worked in a carpentry shop for 30 years and did public ministry for only a few. If you were God, would you send the Savior of the world to Earth and let him spend 90% of his life doing blue collar work, and only 10% preaching, training disciples and healing the masses? Now, I get it in one sense: Jesus had to be 30 years old to teach with authority per his religious culture. But God could have directed that differently if he wanted. I think there is a lesson here in Jesus’s teenage and young adult life and even in the biblical silence about it: Most of life is trivial, menial and mundane and not worth writing about. But it all still matters. Luke 2:52 captures those quiet years of Christ’s life quite well—he kept growing in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man. That is what happens in daily life far more than big events.
I am convinced that God cares just as much that you are thankful the second Tuesday in August as the fourth Thursday in November. He cares that we proclaim the resurrection as much on Labor Day as on Easter. And he cares that you are worshiping him just as much at 8 AM Monday morning as at 11 AM Sundays. God cares about it all. He told us to give thanks in all circumstances and to be content in all circumstances. Not just the summer ministries and the major holidays. Even when life is anything but exciting.
This July I will be moving from Chicago to Sesser, IL and starting a new pastoring job. My wife and I are ecstatic about it. Yet I can’t wait to see what God is going to do today, as I sit here on my laptop in my Monday-to-Friday life, just as much as what he is going to do then. Because I have six weeks of time to glorify him in grocery shopping, Excel spreadsheets and washing baby bottles. And may we all glorify him in our daily, trivial, menial and mundane.