It’s been a delightfully ordinary day so far. Walmart trip – check. Grocery store – been there. Bank – did that. Laundry – in progress (always in progress, right?). Unloading dishwasher – done.
I don’t usually find delight in ordinary tasks, but Gideon’s story challenges me to adopt a new perspective. In Judges 6, we find that Gideon was threshing wheat when the angel of the Lord appeared. Hiding in a winepress (not the usual place for threshing wheat), Gideon didn’t want any sort of encounter, much less a divine assignment. However, Gideon learned that ordinary is often the disguise of the divine, a lesson seen elsewhere in Scripture.
I think of Moses’ calling in Exodus 3:
“Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush….”
And the calling of David in 1 Samuel 16:
“Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, ‘The Lord has not chosen these.’ So he asked Jesse, ‘Are these all the sons you have?’
‘There is still the youngest,’ Jesse answered. ‘He is tending the sheep.’
Samuel said, ‘Send for him….’
Then the Lord said, ‘Rise and anoint him; this is the one.’”
Consider that Jesus called Peter, James and John while they were in their boats: “‘… from now on you will fish for people,’ He said. So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.” (Luke 5: 10 – 11).
Gideon was farming, Moses and David were tending animals, and the disciples were working their daily tasks when miraculous movements of God interrupted their monotony.
“Today’s tasks, even the most mundane of them – are often preparation for tomorrow’s calling.” ~ Priscilla Shirer.
God calls you and me to be faithful with the assignments that He’s entrusted to us. And here is the place where the simple is sacred, if we will choose a perspective of thankfulness. Gideon’s wheat, Moses’ flock, and Peter’s boat were evidences of God’s blessing.
The load of laundry? That’s evidence that we have ample clothing.
The full dishwasher? That’s proof that a meal was prepared and enjoyed last night.
From turbulent 17th century France rises the testimony of Brother Lawrence, a monk who gave his faithful attention to God’s presence in any activity. Assigned to the mundane tasks of peeling potatoes and cleaning the monastery kitchen, Brother Lawrence developed a holy perspective of common work. Because he didn’t compartmentalize his communion with God to “spiritual” endeavors, Brother Lawrence worshipped in the midst of his very ordinary business.
“We can do little things for God,” said Brother Lawrence. “I turn the cake that is frying on the pan for love of Him.”
Likewise, I want to search out the grace of my everyday tasks (even laundry) and cultivate a grateful, worshipping heart. Perhaps tomorrow’s calling will require some extraordinary preparation, and if so, it begins today – in the midst of my ordinary life.
“We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.”
― Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God
“It is ingrained in us that we have to do exceptional things for God— but we do not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life, and holy on the ordinary streets, among ordinary people— and this is not learned in five minutes.” – Oswald Chambers