Old Testament Reading: Exodus 31 & 32
Psalms Reading: Psalm 42
* New Testament Reading: Romans 12
The vast majority of life’s moments are simply ordinary for most of us. Even people who have exciting careers or riches and fame still have low-key moments in their lives. As a homeschooling mom, I like to think that I spend my days helping my children pursue an excellent education and engaging them in infinite stimulating activities with their full cooperation; in reality, though, I find that much of my time passes by tidying up messes I didn’t make, preparing meals that will soon be rejected, arguing about why they actually do need to learn the process of simplifying fractions, and washing laundry that has mysteriously amassed into a mountain overnight.
Even as a young adult, before my four Blessings were born, I often felt overwhelmed with the mundane. I wanted to do something BIG for God, not spend my long days as a teacher begging my students to stop throwing spitballs during the read-aloud.
Around that time, God showed me Romans 12 in a new light, through The Message paraphrase. The first verse, which was revolutionary to me, goes like this: “Take your everyday, ordinary, life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work and walking-around life, and place it before God as an offering.” For decades now, I have had that scripture posted around my home so I am always reminded of the value of the humdrum rhythms of life, the chance to make a difference in even the most unremarkable situations. Because most of life is without pomp and circumstance, we must learn to live each day with purpose, as all of our interactions with others have a kingdom impact. We should consider ourselves missionaries in the midst of our own school, job, and life.
Intrigued by the Danish lifestyle of hygge that represents a more simplistic and intentional way of living, I picked up the book “Holy Hygge” by Jamie Erickson. Have you heard of hygge (pronounced “HYOO-guh”)? Hygge is a word with complex meaning that is not directly translatable to English, but I believe that it goes along well with realizing that every moment of our lives is an offering to God. Simply put, “Hygge is a mindset – a way of making the mundane and necessary tasks of life more meaningful and beautiful… [hygge] helps us see that the whole of our lives is greater than the sum total of all the individual moments. The cup of coffee we sip with our roommate at the breakfast table each morning, the quick chat with the coworker as we share an elevator on our way into the office, the smile-and-wave we offer to the playground supervisor each afternoon while sitting in the pickup line – these all become a daily liturgy. We no longer grudge the monotony of a routine because hygge compels us to find the extra of each ordinary moment. In the words of author Annie Dillard, ‘How we spend our days, is, of course, how we spend our lives.’ ” (Holy Hygge, p. 15, 79-80).
Therefore, as followers of Jesus, it behooves us to realize the eternal importance of each action and interaction. To quote Brennan Manning, “In every encounter, we either give life or we drain it. There is no neutral exchange.” Everything we do – or don’t do – makes an impression for the good or the bad. Every interaction is a chance to point to – or away from – Jesus through our actions. Every moment of our lives is meant to be an offering to God.
Romans 12 goes on to share a lot about standing out from the world rather than blending into it (verses 1-2) and recognizing our gifts of grace from God and sharing our gifts with the right attitudes (verses 3-8). The rest of the chapter is almost like “popcorn proverbs” – little tidbits of reminders about how we should handle life’s challenges. In The Message version, each piece of advice has a second part to either reinforce the concept, show cause and effect, or suggest what NOT to do. I’ve put them into a chart below so you can see how they go together:
|Love from who you are;||Don’t fake it.|
|Run for dear life from evil;||Hold on for dear life to good.|
|Be good friends who love deeply;||Practice playing second fiddle.|
|Don’t burn out;||Keep yourselves fueled and aflame.|
|Be alert servants of the Master,||cheerfully expectant.|
|Don’t quit in hard times;||Pray all the harder.|
|Help needy Christians;||Be inventive in hospitality.|
|Bless your enemies;||No cursing under your breath.|
|Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy;||Share tears when they’re down.|
|Get along with each other;||Don’t be stuck up.|
|Make friends with nobodies;||Don’t be the great somebody.|
|Don’t hit back;||Discover beauty in everyone.|
|If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody.||Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”|
|Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry…||go buy that person lunch.|
|if he’s thirsty…||get him a drink.|
|Your generosity||will surprise him with goodness.|
|Don’t let evil get the best of you;||get the best of evil by doing good.|
This is a great list of things we can practice in the midst of our ordinary moments, and doing so will help shine the light of Jesus to the world around us, helping them see him in the monotony of life, too.
Rachel is the wife to Pastor Dan Cain and homeschooling mama to four children.
- Choose one or two of the “popcorn proverbs” in the chart that are a struggle for you. How and when will you apply them to the monotony of your days?
- Romans 12:2 (MSG) says, “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.” What are some ways that you have fit in with the culture, but God is calling you to stand out for Him?
- Think about the most monotonous part of your day. How can you redirect to focus on God during those times? (Listen to the Bible on audio while driving, pray while doing dishes, etc).
- What has God shown about Himself in your reading of His words today?