Seeing God in the Mundane

I fell in love with this simple portrait of a simple girl doing a simple task. Maybe because I am a simple person? Her facial expression is hard for me to read. Is she bored? Upset? Or just resigned to doing the task at hand that must be done? The artist is a Swiss painter named Albrecht Anker who was known for painting the everyday life of people in rural communities. The subject matter of his paintings resulted in him being called the “national painter” of Switzerland. His paintings continue to have a wide appeal. I love how the soft light from an unseen window bathes this young girl in warmth as she is surrounded by subtle tones of brown.

Peeling potatoes. I used to hate to peel potatoes. Such a mundane task yet necessary in the preparation of this important staple food. In Anker’s time, the potato was considered the “second bread” because it was affordable and nutritious. What mundane tasks do you find yourself facing? Washing dishes, folding laundry, dusting the shelf. How excited do you get when presented with such duties?

Mother Teresa said, “Wash the plate, not because it’s dirty, nor because you’re told to wash it, but because you love the person who’ll use it next.”

This quote challenged me to shift my perspective. As I do what may be considered mundane tasks, are my thoughts flooded with complaints and resentment? Is my focus on myself, hoping someone notices how hard I’m working? Or am I grateful for the opportunity to pass a blessing on to someone down the line? Remarkably, things like a clean plate and a folded sweatshirt may be a way to show love. Can I see how God is infused into every task if I but take the time to notice?

In The Pursuit of God, A. W. Tozer notes that we are in danger of living divided lives. We count all our spiritual practices as “sacred,” and we think of the rest of our ordinary, daily tasks as “secular”—a waste of our time. This leaves us trying to “walk the tightrope between two kingdoms” and “finding no peace in either.”

Being Human connection: It is good to be reminded that God is in the ordinary mundane tasks of life just as much as he is in the sacred and holy. Our life need not be divided. We are invited to find the peace and presence of God in all we do. Every task can be a blessing—even peeling potatoes. As Tozer says, “daily labors can be performed as acts of worship.”

Featured art: Albrecht Anker, The Little Potato Peeler, 1886

“We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.” ~ Brother Lawrence

“It is not necessary to have great things to do. I turn my little omelet in the pan for the love of God.” ~Brother Lawrence

“…if you do anything, do it all for the glory of God.” ~1 Corinthians 10:31