Most of us enjoy ‘mountain-top’ experiences, those times when God’s presence is so real it feels like nothing is impossible. Like Peter, James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration, we glimpse God afresh and our lives are never quite the same again.
But, as John Waller notes in his song ‘Man of The Valley‘, ‘most of my story is down in the valley/ Where You refine my heart.’ God is just as present in our everyday routines and mundane experiences as He is on the mountain top, and the sooner we learn to find Him in the everyday and the mundane, the better.
John Waller sings,
‘It’s in the day-to-day
When it seems mundane
You’ve been the greatest work in me.’
The word ‘mundane’ comes from the Latin ‘mundus’, meaning world. It reminds me of Jesus’s words when praying for His disciples: ‘They are still in the world… they are not of the world.’ (John 17:11, 16) We live in the world – and our ordinary, humdrum lives testify to this. There is little that seems exciting or spiritual in the everyday world of cooking, cleaning, going-to-school-or-work. Responsibilities are many and we can feel overwhelmed by all there is to do as well as frustrated by the ephemeral nature of what occupies so much of our lives. We feel the pull of the heavenly world (our citizenship is in heaven, after all) and we wrestle sometimes with this dual nationality. We crave those spiritual moments when God’s voice thunders out to us and we glimpse His glory, but then we’re thrust back into the valley where bickering children, belligerent bosses, piles of laundry and trips to the supermarket invade our desire to sit at Jesus’s feet like Mary.
And yet… it’s here, in the valley, in the very ordinariness of a physical world, with time constraints that tug at our prayers, that we also find God. Shaping us. Refining us. Speaking to us through ordinary stories (parables) where heaven and earth meet. A lost coin. A broken relationship. A beautiful pearl. A loaf of bread. God connects with us in the mundane. That overflowing laundry basket reminding us that though our sins were as scarlet, they are now washed white as wool. That querulous, whining baby reminding us of God’s patience with us as we try to soothe the tired whimpers. The beautiful sunshine of spring reminding us that hope is actually never far away.
Don’t despise the valley. There’s much to learn there.