I stepped back into the doorway of my workshop and admired my work. No, I wasn’t admiring a great piece of furniture I had just finished building (I don’t think I’m capable of such a feat). I was admiring a row of paint cans I had neatly lined up on rustic shelves I had just built. Before, the cans had been clustered on the floor in a helter skelter way, some precariously stacked on others.
Looking on the neat row of paint cans and the shelves on which they sat, I asked myself if it had been a good use of my time and effort. In the grand scheme of things was it worth building the shelves so I could organize paint cans?
We all end up doing a vast number of mundane and non-earth-shaking tasks: washing dishes, making the bed, gassing up the car, buying groceries, etc. Is this what life is to be all about? I directed my thoughts to what God might have to say about this in the Bible, the place I go to when I want to find what God has to say on anything and everything.
Mentally flipping through the pages of the Bible I was reminded that Jesus didn’t start His public ministry until about age 30, and that up until that point He spent His adult early years working in his step-father Joseph’s carpenter shop, several of those years Jesus being in charge, due to the early death of Joseph. During those years He presumably not only built furniture, yokes, buckets and other such items but He had to have spent considerable time picking up his tools, organizing them, and sweeping up the sawdust.
Then, too, when Jesus went on to His public ministry of being an itinerant preacher He spent many hours simply walking from one place to another. I’m sure He was talking to His disciples and teaching them along the way, but I suspect there were also many miles when He just walked. Jesus not only lived out many ordinary human experiences like we do, He also was fond of telling stories (parables, we call them) about ordinary objects and subjects like lost coins, sowed seed, and workers waiting to be hired.
God is all places at the same time and this means His presence is with us even when we’re doing the most ordinary and mundane tasks, thus making it possible for these moments to be sacred. While doing such tasks of the ordinary we can be mindful of His presence and attention, have an inward and private conversation with Him on whatever subject we choose, and feel gratitude for the strength and ability to do what we’re doing.
Ordinary is good. It’s okay to organize used paint cans and to do other ordinary, often humdrum, tasks. It’s part of our call from God, He is near, and we can do it with an attitude that is pleasing to Him. It’s our choice – to make sacred the ordinary.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31