These days, each of us have become our own paparazzi, snapping photos of our everyday lives and posting them all over the web for the public eye. Some seek a sense of accomplishment, as though chronicling their life will assign it a measure of significance. Others desire the approval and affirmation of others. As we scroll through our Facebook and Twitter feeds, read blogs, and observe the lives of others, we may be tempted to think that those with exciting, fast-paced lives and interesting jobs are to be envied.
I remember the four years I worked at UPS. It was as mundane a job as they get. Sure each day had its ups and downs, twists and turns. But when it all boiled down, packages came down a slide, and you put them in a container…and that was that. As I worked there side-by-side with lifetime union workers who had been doing this same mundane task day after day after day for more than twenty years, I marveled. How could someone be content to perform the same task daily for years without much promise of change, improvement, or accolade? Work at UPS was nothing to tweet about. It wasn’t post-worthy. In fact, we weren’t even allowed to bring our phones to work. How does someone in that kind of a job still find significance?
Or take, for instance, the stay-at-home mother. Each day, her previous day’s work is undone. The clothes she washed are made dirty again. The bathroom she cleaned is covered with bath suds and the sink with tooth paste spatter. The kitchen floor she mopped the previous night by the end of breakfast is covered with cereal crumbs ready to be stepped on and spread throughout the house. The toys she put away are immediately dumped right back on the floor. At the end of the day, she finds herself on her knees re-cleaning, re-picking up, re-putting away–the exact same things she did the previous night. These are not tweetable tasks. These are mind-numbing and mundane activities. How does a stay-at-home mom have hope for the future when she knows it’s filled with more of the same?
Today it is easy for a husband and wife to feel like their marriage is insignificant and lifeless if they are not out and about hitting the hottest restaurants in NYC or traveling to Europe twice a year. They watch the scripted romance on shows and movies, and the glorified excitement displayed can instill discontentment. Perhaps the mundane day to day faithfulness to one another is second rate. Their lives are filled with soccer practice, disciplining children, and leftovers. Can that kind of life really be of any significance? When these kinds of thoughts creep in, it is no wonder that many go looking for “excitement” outside of the home.
I could go on and on with examples from our lives that present a struggle for us in a world of extremes. Only “the best ever” and “the worst ever” will garner attention in the social media world. What about the typical everyday mundane living that makes up the majority of our lives? Going to the grocery store. Running errands. Cleaning up kids’ throw up. Taking out the trash. How do we find significance in parts of our lives that require repetitive faithfulness with no reward or affirmation, especially when those repetitive tasks might be a part of our lives for the unforeseeable future? Shall we lose hope? Shall we give in to despair?
Here is my encouragement to you: Be faithful. Your faithfulness is not tested when things are exciting, moving, and changing at a fast pace. It’s easy to live that kind of a life. Jobs with quick promotions, marriages full of travels and vacations, families with star-athlete children–these are easy. However, your faithfulness is put to the test when you are on day 1,115 of the same clean-up job. Your faithfulness is tested when you enter year 11 of your marriage and year 10 was filled with heartache and struggle. Your faithfulness is tested when you have been loading packages for twenty years without so much as a “thank-you”, and when that alarm clock goes off in the morning, you still choose to get dressed for work.
Faithfulness is not developed in an atmosphere of change. Faithfulness is developed in a woefully mundane environment with no promise of change. Will you still put your hands to the plow, even if God asks you to do the same task you have done for days, months, or years?
The faithfulness and steadfast love of God is a constant theme throughout the Bible, especially the Old Testament. God’s love is intimately intertwined with his promises. He makes covenant promises that bind him to act and to love in certain ways toward his people. When Israel finally conquers the Promised Land in Joshua, the author makes this statement in 21:45–“Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.” This is the God that we serve. He is a God who is pleased to be faithful to his promises.
Consider Isaiah 46:8-10–“Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.'” Before the foundation of the world, God established his purposes for creation and for his people. And yet, throughout the entire course of history, he remained faithful. Even through the mundane passing of generation to generation, the boring years of sinners continually rebelling against him, the thousands of years of faithfully steering the course of history, his purposes remained steadfast and sure. The things he was determined to accomplish he remained faithful to do.
Our faithfulness to the mundane tasks of life is based upon our trust in a God who will be more faithful than we can ever be. He has proven to us that it is worth it to be patient, to stick to the task, and to trust in the Lord. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5). God carefully and faithfully brought the course of history to the perfect place where Jesus could enter the world to be its Savior. He was not in a hurry. He waited until the perfect fullness of time. Yet, his promises and purposes to save his people were never in doubt. His faithfulness to save came about because he was steadfast, even when he wasn’t parting a Red Sea or knocking over the walls of Jericho.
If you are being faithful to the task God has given you–whether that task is exciting and ever-changing, or mundane and repetitive–you can trust that God is working through you to accomplish his faithful purposes. Don’t lose heart. Paul encourages us: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (Ephesians 6:10). It does not take strength to work a job or live a life that makes a splash on Facebook and Twitter and gathers approval from the world. It takes the strength of the Lord to be faithful when life is mundane and boring. What a glorious reality that even in the midst of such lives God is willing and working according to his good purposes!