January 16, 2007
I need something to give the routine and mundane meaning. For me there has to be a purpose, a reason that allows me to live life with anticipation and hope from day to day. For many that purpose doesn’t go much further than putting food on the table, paying for the next weekend adventure, anticipation of the next sexual encounter, or making a lot of money.
I kind of see this purpose/meaning thing as circles within circles, the smallest one being the routine day to day stuff we do. As we go out from there the purposes become more significant until a kind of ultimate purpose is arrived at. Unfortunately, for a lot of people the circle they stop at and are content to live their lives around remains rather small and insignificant.
I won’t pretend to understand all the reasons for this. I’m sure for many it is because they have never been given any larger purpose or context for their life. For others it is a matter of choice, a simple matter of what feels good. But I do believe every person, if really honest, wrestles internally with the need for their life to make sense. I mean really make sense.
For me the circles go something like this: the first slightly larger circle around the daily activities of my life is a circle I would call caring for my family in the practical ways of supplying for their needs. I realize in my culture the idea of needs has been completely redefined, but for now let’s just leave it at that.
The next circle out from that one I would call achieving excellence in my work. The next one out from that I would call living in the Kingdom of God by means of being a student of Jesus Christ. Finally, the circle farthest out I would call living in the expectation of a future with Jesus. A future, Dallas Willard calls, “so full of beauty and goodness we can hardly imagine.”
The two largest circles are the ones for me which provide the context for the smaller ones. Solving a problem on a job site, putting together a project schedule, or creating a bid package, all take on new importance when I understand that how I do those things are important to God and together, with everything else I do, make up my life in Him. With God there is no artificial distinction between secular and sacred. When one’s life is committed to the glory of God and filled with the expectation of a future beyond words, every act, no matter how routine or mundane, carries with it the DNA of significance and can be an act of worship bringing pleasure to God.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23-24)