The Mystery of the Mundane Part 1 by Brad Culver

Today’s post is written by Brad Culver who for over 25 years, together with his wife Mary has given leadership to non-traditional faith communities. One being the Refuge (and the Refuge Café) an alternative (emergent) faith community, which was birthed in 1994 and continues on today under younger leadership. Presently we are homesteading in eastern Ontario and are involved in an inter-faith community. The article was first published on National ThoughtWorks Blog Brad also blogs at Living Water from an Ancient Well

11And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: 12And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. 13And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah? 1Kings 19:11-13

Between keeping ourselves distracted and waiting we miss a lot in life. Waiting for when I grow up. Waiting to get that job. Waiting to find that special person. Waiting to retire . Waiting to that buy new whatever. We live in anticipation of some future fulfillment.

In my faith journey i had observed in  my self and others particularly in ‘spirit filled’ circles much of life being projected into the future and taken up with  passing time, waiting for something to happen. Waiting for the fire to fall Waiting for that revival to break out. Waiting for that miracle. Waiting for the next move of God. We anxiously await the big thing to unfold in our lives, passing time till we die and “go to heaven.”

Most of the “big moments” in our lives tend to take place in the ordinariness of daily life. God is to be found in the ordinary and mundane. We are often so busy we can’t see the forest for the trees. We miss the miracles unfolding before our eyes. We miss God’s immediate presence in the wonder of the ordinary.

Song writer Nick Cave captures this thought so beautifully in these lyrics from his song “Get Ready for Love”

Nothing much really happens
And God rides high in his ordinary sky
Until we find ourselves at our most distracted
And the miracle that was promised
Creeps silently by.   

I remember when it really hit me. God is present in the now, my life is unfolding now. The miracle is in this present mundane moment.

God never promised to answer every question or be an easy access rabbits foot. What he has promised however, is that He would never leave us or forsake us. That he would be present with us at every moment, in all our joy and sorrow, in our waking in our sleeping, in our work and in our play.

What if we were to attempt to be conscious of God’s presence in the ordinary now, in  daily situations?  How would this transform our thoughts, our actions, our encounters with others?

Buddhists refer to this being present in each moment, each breath as mindfulness. For followers of Christ this can be understood  as practicing the presence of  God.

A 17th century Carmelite monk, Brother Lawrence considered “the practice of the presence of God’ to be at the center of authentic Christian spirituality. He learned the discipline of being constantly aware of Gods presence especially in the ordinary and mundane during his forty years of doing dishes and daily tasks for his monastic community.

He wrote, “There is not in the world, a kind of life more sweet and delightful, than that of a continual conversation with God. Those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it.”

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. [Psalm 139:7-12]

Embracing the ordinary and cultivating the practice of becoming aware of Gods presence in the mundane moments and responding,  could also be framed as life in the Spirit.

I remember in my early years as a follower of Christ one of my big questions was “how does one walk in the spirit”. I used to ask that of every Christian i meet.. It often got me into trouble. One day while reading The Pursuit of God by A. W Tozer. I came across this simple passage; “The universal presence of God is a fact. God is here.The whole universe is alive with his life…we have with in us the ability to know him if we will but respond to his overtures” and thus unfolds the mystery of the mundane.

Brad Culver  Ontario Region