Sometimes life looks a heck of a lot less glamorous than we anticipate. I don’t get up every morning with people vying for my attention. I am not responsible for coordinating events or making public presentations. I don’t save lives or build things or teach children. Those are tasks for someone else right now.
After four years of university and a summer at camp, I feel as though I’ve found myself in a foreign land. Nothing about the past few years has felt normal or boring, not even for a moment. They have been a roller coaster of emotions, challenging me to grow and adapt faster than I ever thought possible. But that is not what my life looks like anymore; I've settled into something entirely different.
Now I get up each morning and go sit at a desk. I answer phones, send emails, tidy a gift shop, check people in to the museum where I work. Some days I work virtually alone. I like my job; I like the people I work with. But most days it feels like I don’t make much of a difference in the world. Life in this season feels exceptionally ordinary.
But one of my favorite things about my role is that I get to have tiny interactions with people, step into their world even for a brief moment. Tiny faces look over my desk, tell me stories about favorite dinosaurs or what they ate for breakfast. I get to laugh a lot.
There are many moments when I wonder about the direction of my life, as there have been for several months. And there is still mostly quiet from God about the details of the future. I'm learning to be alright with that, and get up each morning without worrying too much about what lies ahead. Is this what I imagined my life would look like? Not particularly. But is it still good? Absolutely.
I never really understood the verses in Colossians that talk about working wholeheartedly at whatever you do, as though working for God and not for people. They were ones that rattled around in conversation, used as pat answers to reassure friends when they were feeling discouraged. But as I refold t-shirts for the tenth time in an afternoon, or wipe greasy fingerprints off of glass cabinets, I am reminded of them. I am reminded that when we stop working solely for our own gain, and become willing to just show up and live fully where we have been planted, God is glorified.
As I wonder why I am here, why nothing interesting seems to be happening, why I’m not hearing anything specific from God, those words crash down on me. About 98% of life is about just showing up. It is about being willing to jump wholeheartedly into the mundane. Because even in the things that seem to be dull and unspiritual, we are working for a higher purpose. God places us in situations for reasons that we do not always understand at the time, but His ways are not our ways; His thoughts are not our thoughts.
We can’t handle constant spiritual revelation. The God we serve is beyond comprehension, and because of this, we are incredibly overwhelmed by even a small glimpse of His glory. Those moments where it seems like the sky has opened up and God makes Himself abundantly clear to us are powerful, but our finite bodies are nothing when compared with an infinite Creator.
I firmly believe that God is glorified when we are humble enough to just show up, when we stop trying so hard to force a breakthrough and realize that He brings us routine with just as much care as He brings the revelation. God is in the everyday, marching alongside us through the trenches of life. He is in the sleepy breakfast conversations with family and friends. He is in the mopping of floors and the folding of laundry. He is there as we sit at stop lights and when we just don’t know what to make for dinner. He is present in those small moments that we tend to overlook, those ones where kids talk about kinds of dinosaurs that never existed and all you can do is smile and nod.
When in doubt, look to the life of Jesus. Before he ever began to run around doing miracles and preaching to the masses, he learned carpentry – the family trade. For about thirty years, Jesus Christ lived the life of an average tradesman. It probably wasn’t very glamorous most of the time, but God still wrote those years into the life of Jesus on earth.
There is phenomenal power in that 2% of life that is dramatic realizations and rapid growth. But let us not overlook that other 98% of life, because that is where we primarily exist, and I refuse to believe the lie that God is only working when we tangibly notice Him. The reality is that the 2% exists so that the 98% can look more like Jesus, so that we can walk alongside one another in true community rather than trying to sprint ahead and get there first.
Let us hold fast to the truth that our perception does not determine the action of our Creator. Let us praise God that He is not confined to our narrow perspective. Keep showing up and remember that God is still working. Be encouraged that what you are doing is worthwhile, and it is seen by the only One who matters. Take comfort in that; I know I am.