Does this really matter?
The question crosses my mind as I scrub leftover casserole off dirty dishes, sit in the winding carpool line, pay bills, and switch the laundry over…yet again. What I don’t mean by this question is: Does it matter that we have clean plates to eat off of, that my kids are picked up from school and cared for, or that we have clean clothes to wear? Yes, of course it matters that we complete such tasks.
My question is deeper. Because the pesky questioner in my head is always challenging the status quo. It's always asking: Does this really matter in light of eternity? Does this moment carry weight in the kingdom? When I’m picking up pieces of trash off the floor and sorting little boy shirts and shorts that will soon be back in the laundry hamper again? Or are the mundane moments we spend keeping things in order and making life run really just…meaningless?
How We Spend Our Days
Annie Dillard wrote, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing.” Often, we hear quotes like this and assume we must carpe diem! Seize the day! Get stuff done. But how we spend our days isn’t just how we spend our lives. It's how we become who we are and who we will be. It’s not just about what we’re doing, but the heart behind how and why we’re doing it. The majority of our days consist of unexciting, need-to-be-done activities. Our lives are, for the most part, ordinary.
Consider this data. If you live to be eighty years old, you’ll spend approximately twenty-six years of your life sleeping, eleven years staring at a screen, thirteen years working, four years eating, one year socializing, and an additional eight years doing ordinary tasks like cleaning, commuting, and caring for others. If we spend the majority of our days doing ordinary things, why do we focus on the big events instead of the average moments in between?
The little moments are where our hearts are formed, our thoughts are shaped, our motivations are refined, and our lives are changed. It’s in the moments when we scrub toilets, listen to a child recite the same fact for the hundredth time, pick up groceries, answer emails, and have coffee with a friend that God is transforming us into the likeness of Christ. These moments matter to God, the Maker of time. And they matter to us. How we spend our days is not only how we spend our lives, it’s how we become who we will be at the end of our lives. That is far more important than being productive and getting stuff done.
How Jesus Spent His Days
Have you ever thought about the daily life of Jesus while he was on earth? Scripture gives us hints into the ordinary life he lived as God in human flesh. We know he traveled by foot from place to place, dirtying his feet with the dust of the earth and gaining calluses on his soles as he walked many miles. We know he made breakfast, broke bread, felt the pangs of hunger in his belly, and did what he needed to be fed and to feed others (Matt. 26:26; Mark 11:12; Luke 9:10–17; John 21:12).
He played with children, attended weddings, took naps, fished, attended funerals, and bathed (Mark 4:38; 9:36–37; Luke 7:11–17; John 2:1–12; 21:4–13). Jesus, the Son of God, holy and righteous, lived daily life on earth just like we do. Being fully God and fully man did not make him exempt from experiencing all that we experience. But there is one stark difference in the life of Christ and how we live: he was without sin (Heb. 4:14–15).
Jesus’ Model of Faithfulness in the Mundane
In Jesus’ human life, all these moments mattered in light of eternity. Christ fully and completely did all that he set out to do by fulfilling the will of God the Father (John 4:34). This includes the moments he was teaching thousands on a hillside and the moments he worked with his hands, building and cutting from stone.
Christ did not come to negate the mundane but to redeem it. He did not come as a King to be served but as a King who would serve the least of these (Matt. 20:28). He did not come to be placed on a pedestal but to bear the cross and wear a crown of thorns in our place. Christ shows us the importance of faithfulness in the mundane. Rather than elevating the big, noticeable, applaudable things we do, he gives us the example himself by modeling faithfulness, purpose, and joy in the ordinary.
The majority of the life of Christ is unrecorded. Thirty years passed before Jesus began his ministry. But each day of those thirty years mattered. They comfort us when we feel lost and hopeless, like the turning of days is too slow or painful, because we know God is always at work (Phil. 1:6). They remind us that God is with us every moment and that he has a bigger purpose he is working out day by day. The unrecorded and recorded moments of the life of Christ both show us that these moments really do matter in light of eternity. And that changes everything.
This Moment Matters
Ultimately, the life of Jesus shows us firsthand that this moment matters. Christ, the King and Savior of the world, did not despise the small moments, ordinary tasks, or people who interrupted him. He did not complain when the road he traveled was long or the boat he rode in faced a storm. He did not escape his hunger or the needs around him. Instead, he pressed on and pointed to his heavenly Father. And he taught the kingdom of heaven by living as a humble King among his people, pointing them, and us, to the eternal kingdom to come.
There is not a single person in all of history who has not had to do mundane tasks. People who did great things also did small, everyday things. So, when we begin to wonder as we go throughout our days if what we are doing matters, the answer is a resounding yes! Our moments matter to Jesus, and they matter to us as well. Because of Christ in us, the hope of glory, we can do all things for the glory of God. This includes brushing our teeth, serving in the church nursery, and scrubbing dirty dishes (1 Cor. 10:31; Col. 3:23). Knowing the purpose behind why we work, play, and rest gives meaning to what might feel meaningless. In these moments, we are being chiseled to be more like Christ, and this matters for all eternity.