What’s Important After All?   Leave a comment

Last Christmas, casting about for what to put in Kimberly’s stocking, I fell on a plan my mother devised for us penniless kids in an eight-member family.  She suggested we give one another slips of paper as “tokens” for doing things for our siblings, offering to do their chores or clean their room.  So I printed off some tokens for Kimberly, and she used a few of them last winter, but she’s always felt uncomfortable asking others to do things, and so she left them largely unused.  But Friday, in preparation for a trip, she handed me two tokens, for scrubbing the kitchen floor and cleaning the guest bathroom.  I joked that I should have put expiration dates on the tickets, but I still spent two hours Saturday cleaning.

All that to say that I find cleaning a serious waste of time.  Whatever you clean is simply going to get dirty again.  I have the same problem with cooking, washing, and life-maintenance of every form.  I am all for spending time on things that enhance life, that make things better, so I enjoy remodeling projects, but I get quickly frustrated by repair projects when the end result is simply a return to the status quo.  Unfortunately, a majority of life tasks, including most occupations, are the do-it-over-again variety.  I put library books back on the shelves… the same books over and over and over.  I write emails about repetitive issues and follow checklists for completing the same tasks every night.  What is the point of this assembly-line life?  Why would God design the world as a place we spend our lives uselessly, going in circles until we die?

I was raised to maximize my time on earth for God, to “live with eternity’s values in view,” which meant I was to focus all my life on things that would make an eternal difference, building up myself and others spiritually–read the Bible and teach it, pray together and talk about spiritual things, evangelize, exercise my spiritual gifts.  Everything else was just so much distraction from the important stuff.  Only, life on this planet seems to be constructed mostly from this seemingly superfluous stuff, the stuff that “doesn’t matter.”

So maybe I’ve had it wrong all along.  Maybe what we do is not nearly as important as how we do it.  Perhaps the particular tasks don’t matter so much, but like a paint brush or charcoal pencil are the tools to shape the work of art–the ones who we become individually and together.  Perhaps the fundamental importance is not what we do, but how we do it, living out the life of God in those daily mundane tasks.  Perhaps it is not so much about my trying to change eternity, but allowing eternity to change me, more about being the work of God than doing the work of God, meeting him in the ordinary rather than expecting him only in the “spiritual” parts of life.  Maybe being present in the task is the better alternative to getting through the task so I can get to “more important” things, and so end up living only in life’s peripheries.

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Posted January 5, 2015 by janathangrace in Life, thoughts

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