A Joyful Cog in His Giant Plan

We are our own paparazzi. We’re constantly snapping pictures — posting what we made for lunch and chronicling our lives one selfie at a time.

In a world where everyone else’s life is “the best ever!” it can be hard to keep up. As we scroll through our social media feeds, read blogs, and observe each other’s lives, there is a temptation to envy the eventful, fast-paced lifestyle.

For some of us, no matter how hard we try to make things seem flashy and exciting, we just can’t escape the truth: life is mundane. When the world tells us that joy is found in overseas trips, glitzy jobs, and post-worthy nights on the town, is there any joy left for us?

The Boring Life

I used to work for UPS. It was as mundane a job as you’ll find. Packages came down a slide, we put them in a container, and that was that. I was only there for four years, but I worked with union members who had been there for more than twenty years. Can you imagine? Where’s joy to be found when you’re working the same job that you’ve done for years — a job nobody even pretends is exciting?

Consider the stay-at-home mother. Each day, the clothes she washed are made dirty again. The bathroom she cleaned is covered with suds and toothpaste spatter. The kitchen floor she mopped is sprinkled with cereal crumbs. Every evening she’s on her knees re-cleaning, re-picking up, re-putting away the same things she did the previous night. Where is joy for her in a life that promises more of the same mind-numbing duties?

If you are like me, the majority of your life is filled with typical, everyday, mundane living. No one wants to see a picture of me taking out the trash, going to the grocery store, running errands, or eating leftovers. What if your unforeseeable future is filled with tedious obligations and no recognition?

Consider Our Steadfast God

Salvation history is the story of a God who remained steadfast. Before the foundation of the world, God established his purposes for his people. He reminds us, “My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose” (Isaiah 46:10). Through the mundane passing of generation to generation, the tiresome years of sinners continually rebelling against him, the millennia of faithfully steering the course of history, his purposes remained steadfast and sure. The things he was determined to accomplish he remained faithful to do.

God’s love for his people was unwavering. While mankind found new ways to break every single command of God, year after year he remained steadfast in accomplishing his covenant promises. He was a rock in a world of shifting sand. No mundane detail was below him; neither boredom nor monotony would derail his promises. “Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass” (Joshua 21:45). Not a single word went unfulfilled. Though Israel was rebellious and unreliable, God remained resolute. His relationship with old-covenant Israel was one long illustration of 2 Timothy 2:13: “If we are faithless, he remains faithful.”

After thousands of years of patient dedication, God finally ushered his universe to the crowning moment of the gospel: “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4–5). He was not in a hurry, yet his promise and purposes to save his people were never in doubt.

Our salvation was accomplished because he was steadfast — even when he wasn’t parting a Red Sea or knocking over the walls of Jericho.

Be a Joyful Cog

Our joy is found in realizing that even our most boring days fit into God’s glorious plan. The Enemy robs us of our joy by convincing us that if we are not a glittering snowflake of unique talents and experiences our lives are meaningless. Songwriter Robin Pecknold counters, “After some thinking, I’d say I would rather be a functioning cog in some great machinery serving something beyond me.” Cogs are mundane and plain —seemingly insignificant. However, even cogs can be joyful when they know they are serving not merely something but someone beyond themselves — their loving and steadfast Lord.

Our Lord encourages us, “Remember this and stand firm . . . for I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done” (Isaiah 46:8–9). Today, God is working faithfully through your most basic tasks to accomplish a plan that will bring about your greatest joy and his greatest glory. The amazing truth is that you will find the most contentment and joy in faithfully turning, day after day, as a joyful cog in his sovereign plan of salvation.

When that alarm clock goes off in the morning, will you still choose to get dressed and get to work? Will you still put your hands to the plow, even if our Lord asks you to do the same task you have done for days, months, or years?

Steadfastness is developed when you are on day one thousand of the same clean-up job. Steadfastness is developed when you enter year eleven of your marriage, after year ten was filled with heartache and struggle. Steadfastness is developed when you have been loading packages for twenty years without so much as a thank-you.

As you remain steadfast, find joy in knowing that your Father is steadfastly making you more like his Son — the one who set his face like flint toward accomplishing our salvation (Luke 9:51).

“Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (Ephesians 6:10). His might is not primarily for those with lives that garner approval from the world. His might is meant to empower you to be faithful when life is commonplace and dull. What a glorious reality that even in the midst of such lives, God is willing and working according to his good purposes.

(@chad_ashby) is a graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Grove City College. He teaches literature, math, and theology at Greenville Classical Academy. You can follow him at his blog After+Math.