You just want a moment to have your own quiet time. To savor a cup of coffee and read that book you’ve been wanting to read for so long. The book that you know will give your stagnant faith life a bump you are hungry for.
But life. And taxi drive times. And groceries and the meal prep. (So much food is required for teens!). And lost homework assignments. And last minute homework assignments. And last minute changes to the family schedule. And emotional meltdowns. From your kid, not you because you don’t have time for that emotional meltdown you want.
Just for a moment you want to know you are in God’s presence.
You are. Right there in the everyday-ness of it all.
Eugene Peterson was a great theologian who also wrote The Message Bible and about a thousand other books. He died in 2018. There is much respect for this man. This lucky author got to have a conversation with him.
Years ago during graduate studies at Regent College, I had a desperate talk with Eugene Peterson about how my PhD had turned the words of God into a great, big research project. I was trying to read my lifeless Bible, but I was interrupted 1,000 times by children needing to be fed, changed, read to, and more. I begged him to give me a spiritual discipline, some rope to haul me out of the hole I was in.
“Well, Julie,” he said, “is there anything you are doing in a disciplined manner already?”
I thought about my newborn daughter, Iona, and the hours that I spent nailed to our couch feeding her. She had reflux, and most of what went into her immediately came up again, which meant that I had to repeat the feed all over again. “Nursing Iona is the only thing I can count on,” I said. “She makes sure of that.”
He patted my hand, then, like a parent consoling a dissatisfied child who is not content with their lot in life. “Julie, that is your spiritual discipline. Now start paying attention to what you are already doing. Be present.”
In that moment and so many others like it, I was weakened by a very common and insidious temptation: I wanted to be for Christ instead of being in Christ. I saw my familial responsibilities as obstacles to a godly life when in fact they were the very place he wanted to meet me. Accordingly, I had to radically revise my view of obedience to include the simple act of abiding in Christ. Source.
One more note from this article:
Although we tend to speak of salvation as “Jesus in my heart” (a phrase used only one time in the Bible—Eph. 3:17) or as “Christ in me” (which is mentioned five times in the Bible—2 Cor. 13:5, Rom. 8:10, Gal. 4:19, Gal. 2:20, Col. 1:27), Paul says something far more often: He uses the phrase “in Christ” 165 times. The Bible’s favorite way of describing our salvation is one we rarely use. For Paul, salvation was simple: It was being joined to Jesus Christ.
What are you doing now in a disciplined manner? Identify it. That is you “in Christ.”
The following are some familiar verses maybe to you. For a beautiful twist I’m going to give you them out of The Message (another Eugene Peterson reference!) because you are going to see this truth better.
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12:1-2
What are you doing now in a disciplined manner? Identify it. Worship God through that. Live for God through that. That is enough.
All of that meal planning, God is with you. All of that family taxi driving, God is with you. This is where God desires to meet you. Start paying attention to that.
This is your calling. This is your ministry. We are invited to join God where he has us.
This is holy. And way better than the miserable guilt we put upon ourselves. Or the whine that our lives become.
God is building big things out of you.
Do you want to watch a great podcast about everyday-ness? Here. You will be inspired but also place a much greater value on sleep.
(photo credit: Aaron Burden, Unsplash.com)