God Rules the Mundane

There was no way the crusted blueberry bits were going to come off this 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 my husband, 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 away my life 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.

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 everything 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.

Jesus Died for Me—I Can Trust Him

Grace humbles me. That Jesus would allow himself to be led like a lamb to slaughter and not answer those who reviled him it takes my breath away. That God would send his Son to die for me and purchase for me “an inheritance that is imperishable undefiled, and unfading” (1 Pet. 1:4)—I am undone.

The joy of the Lord motivates and strengthens me to give my time to serve others in washing their dishes while looking forward in faith to hear my Savior say to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” As I joyfully and humbly give my time and energy to do the dirty dishes my husband left behind, I lose nothing and gain everything.

Living in the reality of this gospel and the future promise of glory motivates me to love others as Jesus loves. I have received mercy in Christ Jesus (1 Pet. 2:10). This afternoon at my kitchen sink I must be confident that what he promises for me in the future will come to pass. That’s faith.

So here I am at my kitchen sink, scrubbing crusty blueberry bits off the inside of a cup. But instead of grieving over my inadequacies to serve joyfully or gloating with pride that I’ve restrained my evil tongue from making snide remarks, an entirely different dynamic is at work.

It’s faith working through love (Gal. 5:5-6).

God works in me through his Word (1 Thess. 2:13). This gift of grace enables me to praise the Lord and serve others gladly as I confess with tears of joyful relief, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever” (Rom. 11:36).

Even in my darkest doubts when I do the same thing again the next day, my hope is still built on the righteousness of Christ. The gospel keeps me relating to God on the basis of Jesus’ perfections, not on the illusions of my religious achievements. God strengthens me and protects me according to his faithfulness, not mine (2 Thess. 3:3). So I can scrub dried blueberry bits as unto the Lord as my heart is satisfied in God because his kindness to me in Christ leads me to repentance again and again.

Miraculous in the Mundane

Do you see how everyday life presents opportunities for our growth in holiness? God can use the ordinary moments in your life to glorify himself by conforming you into the image of his Son. That is precisely what he intends to do.

Dirty dishes in the sink is not just a worrisome ordeal in your otherwise uneventful day. It’s an opportunity to see glimpses of grace.

Excerpt taken 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.

  • http://theoldadam.com/ the Old Adam

    As Christians we can grow in many ways. The Holy Spirit handles that for us, not because of our help…but in spite of it.

    But as far as holiness goes, there is no ladder to climb to become holier. That is the game that Catholics play.

    We are ‘declared’ holy and righteous for Jesus’ sake. Totally apart from anything we do, say, feel, or think.

    That’s why it’s such great news!

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  • http://whatmatterstogod.wordpress.com KC McGinnis

    “So here I am at my kitchen sink, scrubbing crusty blueberry bits off the inside of a cup”

    Love these little details; thanks for writing!

  • http://www.saltformation.com Britt McCrimmon

    I love the quote from Paul Tripp “If God doesn’t rule your mundane, then he doesn’t rule you. Because that’s where you live.” So often we want to do great things thinking that it is in those great things that God is forming and shaping us.

    He is right it is in our ordinary life where things don’t go our way that the transformation really comes!

    Thanks for the wake up call! Nice post.

  • David B

    Thanks for always meeting us with Jesus where we are, Gloria.

  • Cara

    Gloria, I have a quote from Annie Dillard posted by my kitchen sink, actually, that is very similar to the Paul Tripp one (I think I remember that one hitting me at the conference as well!). “How we spend our days, is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Thanks for this article, it was very encouraging and pertinent for me to read today! Love from all of us, Cara

    • http://www.domestickingdom.com Gloria Furman

      What a wonderful quote! Thanks Cara!

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  • http://www.ecxc.wordpress.com The Welshman

    I’m currently reading Tim Keller’s “Meaning of Marriage” book. Your article reminded me of something I read last night. Although mainly applied to marriage I think it’s applicable to learning to love everyone in our daily lives. Keller says,

    “In any relationship, there will be frightening spells in which your feelings of love dry up. And when that happens you must remember that the essence of marriage is that it is a covenant, a commitment, a promise of future love. So what do you do? You do the acts of love, despite your lack of feeling. You may not feel tender, sympathetic, and eager to please, but in your actions you must BE tender, understanding, forgiving and helpful. And, if you do that, as time goes on you will not only get through the dry spells, but they will become less frequent and deep, and you will become more constant in your feelings. This is what can happen if you decide to love.”

    Even when mundane things make it hard for us to feel loving, if we choose to do those loving things (washing that blueberry crusted mug) it will cause us to FEEL loving eventually and cause a positive cycle of being able to move past moments of discouragement.

  • Sheila Conley

    This article speaks to me very loudly. As a homemaker I can totally relate to the blueberry frustrations and the mundane. I forget far too often that God is blessing me with the ability to be home while my husband provides for us through his job. My pity party is so ungodly. Thank you for the wake up in seeing that even in the mundane, there is love. And to the Welshman for his comment about love.

  • Deborah Gage

    Thanks, I needed that. Now off to do the dishes and the ironing!

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  • http://Bronlea.wordpress.com Bronwyn lea

    What a great article! And a delight to read something more of yours after I first came across your name on Tim’s blog (his review of your book was the day before I got to guest post :-) as a mom of three very little people myself, I need to hear this all the time. It occurs to me often that changing diapers is my modern day equivalent of washing feet.

    I thought perhaps you might enjoy this quote from Calvin on 1 Timothy 2:15…

    “… when a woman, considering to what she has been called, submits to the condition which God has assigned to her, and does not refuse to endure the pains, or rather the fearful anguish, of parturition [childbirth], or anxiety about her offspring, or anything else that belongs to her duty, God values this obedience more highly than if, in some other manner, she made a great display of heroic virtues, while she refused to obey the calling of God. “

  • Sheba

    Paul Trip – “If God doesn’t rule your mundane, then he doesn’t rule you. Because that’s where you love”.

    An eye opener for me…Thanks Gloria (and Paul Trip indirectly)…Have to stop the pity party !

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