Last week we talked about taking time to be still. This week, I wanted to share some ideas for putting this into practice, and helping us to find joy in life’s everyday moments.
For those of us who are parents, especially moms, it may feel like our talents are being wasted at this stage in our lives. Changing diapers, wiping noses, and making lunches is not always very challenging and can leave us feeling paradoxically overwhelmed and downright bored. We have a lot of things to juggle, but none of them feels particularly fulfilling or challenging. If, on top of all that, we work from home or outside the home, we feel the pressure both in the workplace and with our families, and it can be enough to make us want to just throw in the towel some days. However, God’s word offers us hope. It is there that we find it is possible to find contentment, joy, and peace in these everyday moments.
In Philippians 4, Paul says “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” This must ring true wherever we are in our lives. Whether we are facing hardships, living in plenty, or as we’ll see below, just living in those ordinary, everyday moments.
When we study Paul we see that he faced a lot of the same difficulties we face today (and more!). While we often focus on Paul’s physical hardships (shipwrecks, beatings, stoning, exposure, hunger, imprisonment, and more; see 2 Cor. 11:23-28), which are things that we probably don’t face on a regular basis (and which deserve a post of their own), Paul faced a number of everyday difficulties too.
Did you know Paul had a day job? In Acts 18:1-3 we find that Paul was a tentmaker by trade, and that he worked with Aquila and Priscilla while in Corinth. When we think of Paul, we often think of him as a “super apostle” – someone who spent all of him time just praying and preaching and teaching. We don’t think of him as someone who worked with his hands, trying to balance his service to God with a regular mundane job. Sounds a little more like us, now doesn’t it?
Though he had no physical children, Paul was concerned for his spiritual children, especially Timothy, who is often referred to as his son and “true child in the faith.” He urges Timothy to fight the good fight, “holding faith and a good conscience.” As I read some of Paul’s letters to Timothy, I find that much of the advice he gave are words I would speak to my own sons.
So when Paul tells us that he has learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, knowing that he has faced both extreme hardships, as well as normal, everyday situations, we should sit up and take notice. He says “In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (Phil. 4:12).
So what is Paul’s secret?
I think we find the answer right there in Philippians 4:
- “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” (v. 4)
- “The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything” (v. 5b-6a)
- “In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (v. 6b)
- “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (v. 8)
- “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things” (v. 9)
- “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (v. 13)
Notice the heart attitudes here: rejoicing, thanksgiving, faith in God’s power and timing, focusing on truth, putting these things into practice. It’s a full reliance on God. It’s an everyday occurrence (vv. 4, 6, 13). It’s not “rejoice in the Lord when you feel challenged and everything is going right.” It’s not “do not be anxious about your future, but it’s ok to worry about your to-do list today.” It’s not “I can do great things tomorrow through him, but not the ordinary everyday today.” No. It’s “always…about anything…in everything” That’s for today. That’s for right now. That’s for the big, scary, future decisions and the little, seemingly insignificant decisions of today.
And what does Paul say will happen when we put these things into practice? “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” and “the God of peace will be with you” (vv. 7, 9). This, he says, is his secret to being content during the good times and the bad. I don’t know about you, but having the peace of God guarding my heart and mind sounds pretty good to me!
When we begin to think about “whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy,” when we begin to rejoice and find joy always, in all things, even changing diapers and wiping noses, when we realize that it is Christ who is our strength and that He is always at hand, even during midnight feedings and parent-teacher conferences, when we show thankfulness for the daily gifts we so often take for granted and become content with what we have rather than always wanting something else, then our whole attitude starts to change.
We begin to see everyday tasks not as things to check off our lists or time we have to simply muddle through before we get to the “good stuff,” whatever that may be in our minds, but instead we begin to see these everyday tasks as opportunities:
- They are opportunities to serve. We serve our families, our friends, our neighbors, our community and ultimately our God. Before the last supper, Jesus took on the menial role of a servant and washed the disciple’s feet, telling them “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you” (John 13).
- They are opportunities to grow. God is continually molding us to be more like Him. Remember, Jesus spent the first 30 years of his life with his family, in the synagogue, and learning to be a carpenter. The Bible says during that time He “increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Lk 2:52). Just because you’re not doing “big things” for God right now, doesn’t mean this time is wasted.
- They are opportunities to reflect God’s love to the world. We have the opportunity to “shine as lights in the world,” especially when we “do all things without grumbling or disputing” (Phil. 2:14-15). This kind of thankful, joyful attitude reflects a love and dependence on God to the world around us, as well as to our own families and children.
Changing diapers and cleaning the floor may not seem very important some times, but when we complete these tasks with an attitude of gratefulness, joy, contentment, service, and faith, we don’t worry about how important they may seem in other’s eyes, but how important they are in God’s eyes because he calls us to be faithful in all our responsibilities, and He will take care of the details.
Next week we will talk about comparison as the enemy of joy. If you’re on Twitter, use the Hashtag #taketimetobestill or comment below or on the Facebook page to let us know what you’re learning this week as we continue our commitment to take time to be still and know God and find joy in life’s everyday moments!