Or could the mundane actually be profound?
Since moving to the Bay Area three years ago, I’ve experienced significant development in my walk with God and my prayer life—possibly greater strides than I’ve ever experienced. (Signs of this popped up in my earlier blog posts.) I have experiences of God showing up in big ways, often in the course of extensive prayer. Sometimes experiencing God looks like a prophetic dream, or waking up in the middle of the night with an overpowering urge to extensively pray for a friend, or being interrupted in a therapy session with a word from the Lord for my clients. God does some pretty whacko and amazing things.
I’ve noticed that these big moments don’t seem to happen unless I’m seeing God in the more mundane moments.
Image credit: Kim MyoungSung
You know the moments I’m talking about: getting stuck in aggravating traffic for the fifth time this week, running that errand you thought your spouse was going to take care of, hurrying the kids to school because you’re going to be late again, etc. Probably 98 percent or more of our lives consist of the mundane. (That’s a completely made up guesstimate on my part, but we’ll go with it). We spend most of our time waiting in line, sleeping, having silly conflicts with our loved ones, and trying to make it through the workday. And we all have never-ending to-do lists that never seem to get done fast enough.
This is the mundane. And this is how we spend our lives. This is how I spend my life.
So I wondered, Am I spending 98 percent of my life just gritting my teeth and looking forward to the 2 percent of time that God seems to be doing something really cool? Something about that doesn’t add up for me. I’m not sure this was God’s intended design for my life. Yet I used to assume that most of my life would feel pretty terrible, and I hoped God would show up on occasion to make up for it.
That didn’t go so well for me. I found myself feeling largely unsatisfied and disappointed with the lack of movement I saw from God. So, a couple of years ago, I set out to look for God in the mundane.
The first lesson I learned was that this is incredibly difficult. Often his voice can be the hardest to hear. I would find myself standing over a pile of dirty laundry, wondering, So, where exactly is God in this pile of laundry?
I was usually tempted to respond, God is not in this pile of laundry. This is one of those unfortunate things in life that we just have to get done. But, on occasion, I have welcomed God into my thoughts in those moments. I might remind myself of how fortunate I am to have clothes to wear, which I don’t have to wash by hand. From this space, my mind will wander in a prayer-tangent, thanking God for all the ways he’s blessed me greatly. Turns out, God is in the dirty laundry if I give him space to show up.
Probably the biggest way I experience God in the mundane is through my morning commute. I have an hour-long drive most days of the week, and I used to hate it. As I moved toward this posture of seeing God in the little things, I began to embrace my commute as a highlight of my day. The first half of my commute is now often filled with reminders of God’s beauty in the hills, trees, clouds, and sunrise that surround me along I-280. Somehow, if I let myself daydream with God, my thoughts lead me to praying over others for the rest of my drive. I continue to hold those people in my mind throughout the day, praying for them and listening to what God might be saying about them. In the context of spending my days praying for people, I often dream about them at night too. Most days I end up having a word of encouragement, scripture, or prophecy for one or more of them. Sharing these encouragements with others fuels my joy in prayer and builds on the process over time: I find myself waking up the next day, excited to get in my car to pray again and see what God might be up to that day.
All that to say, there can be some pretty big God moments in my life. But it took some time and journeying for me to realize that I only see God in those significant moments when I create space to see him moving in the mundane. When I do so, my posture shifts such that I can see God more clearly on an ongoing basis. I can hear him when he does have something “bigger” to say, and I feel more confident in responding to him by taking some bigger risks.
In my experience, seeing God work in any context, even in a pile of dirty laundry, is still huge. We walk alongside God in the big and the small.
Marie Fang has attended The River since 2012 and serves as worship coordinator. Before moving to the Bay Area, Marie was involved in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and at Coast Vineyard Church in San Diego. She has a doctorate in clinical psychology, is a licensed clinical psychologist, and works part-time at a Christian practice.
Marie and her husband Daniel have been married since 2009. Marie is passionate about learning to love those who are frequently unloved and guiding others in their journey of developing a healthy sense of identity.