Like me, you’ve probably heard the teaching that there is to be no divide between the secular and the sacred. Christ redeems the entirety of our lives and calls us to advance his kingdom in everything we do, whether we’re in a “Christian” setting or surrounded by unbelievers. In fact, as I wrote Christian setting I chuckled because where any follower of Jesus is, that place becomes a Christian setting. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and we exude God’s Kingdom wherever we go.
But what about the day-to-day, mundane activities of life? Do you ever find yourself stressed, burned-out, or worried? I certainly have, and I don’t think I’m in the minority on that. So what do we do — what can I do — to sanctify the mundane? To take the simple tasks in our hands and convert them into powerful tools for advancing God’s kingdom? Here’s the thing: God has given each of us a transmogrifier that can convert otherwise boring or stressful tasks into powerful tools of worship which can fuel apostolic giftings in us.
The covenant that we have been brought into, which Jesus purchased and secured for us, is one which guarantees that all believers can access the Holy Spirit to elevate the mundane.
“The word is right here and now—as near as the tongue in your mouth, as near as the heart in your chest.” — Deuteronomy 30:14
The problem, as I see it, is that we forget who we are, and we keep misplacing our inheritance. Picture this: someone gives you a device that can replicate any kind of food for you by transforming the amino acids, oils, and molecules in the air around it. But every time you’re hungry, you can’t remember where you placed it, so you have to make due with day-old tuna salad. So it is with our spiritual inheritance. We forget what we have at-hand so we settle for our own mental energy and problem-solving abilities.
The earliest generations of Christians developed practices that we often take for granted, but which are specifically designed to keep us aligned with what God is doing in the moment. What is now called The Welcoming Prayer, for example, is a simple yet powerful way to reconnect with the Holy Spirit at any given moment. The Welcoming Prayer is simply becoming aware of what you’re feeling and thinking in the moment (instead of trying to ignore it), look the feeling in the eye (metaphorically), and welcome the Holy Spirit into it. Take a moment to relax back into Jesus, to reconnect with the Holy Spirit right in the middle of the stress, the fear, the anger, the exhaustion, the boredom, etc. Welcome God into the moment with you. Take a moment to ask him what he thinks, what he’s doing, what his solution is, what he thinks of you. With practice, you will get to the point where you don’t have to stop what you’re doing, whether it’s writing an email, calculating a spreadsheet, dealing with a stressful confrontation…you can recognize what’s going on in your mind, recognize how it’s affecting you physically, and then welcome God’s love right into the middle of the mess.
What a wonderful inheritance we have as God’s children! He is eager to co-labor with us. The nearness of God, the love of God, is your birthright because you are in Christ.
Tools for the good fight
Take some time this week to meditate on these scriptures:
- “Whatever you do, give it your very best, as if you were working for the master and not for human beings. After all, you know that you’re going to receive the true inheritance from the master as your reward! It is the master, the king, that you are serving.” — Colossians 3:23, 24 (NTE)
- “So, then, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do everything to God’s glory.” — 1 Corinthians 10:31
- “How much more will your heavenly father give the holy spirit to those who ask him!” — Luke 11:13
- “Your God is present among you, a strong Warrior there to save you. Happy to have you back, he’ll calm you with his love and delight you with his songs.” — Zephaniah 3:17 (MSG)
- “The LORD says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” — Psalm 32:8 (NLT)
Dealing with Distraction
When we set out to involve the Holy Spirit in the seemingly mundane tasks of life we often find our minds wandering off to other places. Of course, it’s good to remember that sometimes God is in the distraction. Yes, you will find at times that your daydream can lead you to a God-idea, a person who needs your intercession, or a new & better perspective on what you’re working on. But there are other times — and you’ll know the difference — when your mind simply wanders off into something unfruitful. Not necessarily sinful, just a distraction. Another caveat: we aren’t machines. We all need rest. We all need to step away from work and relax, take a walk, eat a snack, and trust that God is working even when we’re not. But what about those times when we are trying to engage with God internally, but our minds don’t want to join in? How do we deal with the true mental distractions, the ones that don’t have to do with a need for rest or a Spirit-inspired daydream?
I would point us back to the early Christians, known as the Apostolic Fathers and the Desert Fathers. These were believers who had been discipled by the first apostles. In their writings, we see ideas that are even more applicable to us, who are living in the noisy digital age of the twenty-first century. “The Father spoke one Word, which was his Son, and this Word he speaks always in eternal silence, and in silence must be heard by the soul.” — St. John of the Cross. “God has given to the earth the breath which feeds it. It is his breath that gives life to all things. And if he were to withhold his breath, everything would be annihilated. His breath vibrates in yours, in your voice. It is the breath of God that you breathe—and you are unaware of it.” — Theophilus of Antioch. I love this idea that as we breathe, we are breathing the breath of God. It’s a decision of the heart, a step of faith, to see our breath as an opportunity to engage with the Holy Spirit. Many of you will remember that the old Hebrew word for “spirit” is ruach, and is the same word which is translated in English as “breath”. So for the original readers of the Hebrew scriptures, the words for “spirit”, “breath”, and “wind” were (or could be) the same word. Recall as well Jesus talking to Nicodemus about how the Spirit of God works, and how His people live, that it’s like the wind. You see its effects, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it goes. Clearly God wants us to see a connection between wind, breath, the Holy Spirit, and our spirit.
Breathing: a tool given to us by God to remind us of our constant need for him, of our origins in his breath, of the presence of his Spirit living in us. We can use the imagination God has given us to imagine — in faith — that as we breathe in, we are inhaling his grace and power, and as we exhale, we are giving to Jesus our cares and worries.
In his book, Into the Silent Land, Martin Laird says this regarding breath:
One of the earliest Christian examples [of using breath as a vehicle for prayer] goes back possibly as far as the fourth century. Evagrius reputedly approached the famous monk, Macarius, and said, “Father, give me a word to live by.” Macarius responds, “Secure the anchor rope to the rock and by the grace of God the ship will ride the devilish waves of the beguiling sea.” Macarius explained what he meant: “The ship is your heart; keep guard over it. The rope is your mind; secure it to our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the rock who has power over all the waves…because it is not difficult, is it, to say with each breath, ‘Our Lord Jesus, have mercy on me: I bless thee, my Lord Jesus, help me?’”
Truly, when we think of our inheritance in the faith, when we remember that God wants to fill our work with himself, when we are reminded of the connection between our own breath and his breath of life, nothing is boring! Nothing is mundane. Nothing is ordinary. The supernatural is our normal. The miraculous is our expectation. Ground-breaking, apostolic, prophetic ideas are ours because of the Spirit of Christ within us. Spirit-empowered creativity is available to all of us made in the image of the Creator.
I invite you to pray this with me: Father God, I invite you to bring me into alignment with your kingdom: my work, my home life, my church life, my shopping, my daydreaming. Holy Spirit, I recognize you and thank you for your activity in my life. Come fill me afresh, and remind me to be continually being filled with you. Remind me to see my breathing as a faith-tool for being filled with you, Holy Spirit. Remind me to see my dreams at night as another tool for encountering you. Help me to see everything: eating, sleeping, working, breathing, as opportunities to see you work in & through me. Remind me of my prophetic inheritance, the promise that I am made in your image and can therefore expect creative solutions to problems that I face. Help me to start from a place of faith: that you have a solution for every problem. Secure my heart to Jesus through the anchor-rope of my mind. Thank you, God, for sanctifying the mundane. For making everything holy. Everything a sacrifice of praise. Everything an opportunity to see your power work in and through me.