It’s the ordinary days that make it hardest to persevere, sometimes. The day-in, day-out unending of a burden that erodes faith a grain at a time, wears away the edges of what you know and who you are till the least upheaval could topple you right over. Maybe it’s the way we are wired, as humans, to rally in a crisis, and be ready to resolve it quickly– it’s the ongoing little stresses that often get the better of us. It takes focus to keep walking in faith through the mundane, the unresolvable, and every small choice that confounds us.
It reminds me of a saying I heard once that “the devil is in the details,” meaning that the details that you ignore are the ones that will make the whole project go up in flames in the end. True in business and event planning, and true in life as well. Sometimes the most important details are quite small and ordinary, and could escape notice entirely. It is what our Enemy, the devil, is counting on, so that in the end a whole life could blow away like smoke before you realize. Ironically enough, it is also in the everyday wearing-down details that you can find the devil whispering that you are stuck here, that you aren’t good-enough strong-enough smart-enough, that there is no purpose to this endless maze, that you may as well give up because it’s just too hard to keep trying. And so Peter warns in his letter, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
However, the saying is relatively new in society, and for a hundred years before, the original phrase also spoke truth to people’s hearts: “God is in the detail.” Pay attention to the details because there is significance and beauty and meaning there that you won’t want to miss. The God who made the billions of stars and hangs them in their places, calls them by name…the God who made the billions of fish in the sea, all colors and shapes and some of them so deep that they are never seen…the God who knows when every wild animal is about to give birth…the God who weaves together each of us and knows all our days before we are even born….Yes, of course we can see Him in the details, because He made all the details, down to the last atom. And here in the details of my day it makes all the difference to know that He is present and active– nothing too small and mundane for Him to care about. If I could just keep my eyes on that, how would it transform the ordinary into something More?
Knowing what to look at is truly the secret of persevering. Like the letter writers of the New Testament said over and over again to the early believers suffering persecution: “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18) Keep looking at the glory to come and keep on walking each day in obedience, not just through times of crisis, but through all the little aggravations of ordinary life and the unresolved burdens we wake up with day after day. Pay attention to the big picture and it changes the way you see the ordinary details. Pay attention to the ordinary details and do them well, and the big picture falls into place. God is in the detail.
And it’s odd, but when you learn to fix your heart’s eyes on what is unseen, you begin to see all kinds of details you never noticed before, in the world around you, as if spiritual sight and physical sight were connected– and maybe it is supposed to be that way. Even the most ordinary details are woven through with threads of glory, glimmers of the One who made them, and an undercurrent of spiritual cause and effect running beneath all we do, the movement of the Spirit affecting the ordinary in remarkable ways that are easy to miss if you are not looking.
So I look for God in the details, ask for opened eyes-of-the-heart to see His face and hear His voice in the ordinary days. Devotional writer Sarah Young expresses it well when she talks about how to keep from falling in a world of fast-changing circumstances: “The only way to keep your balance is to fix your eyes on [Him], the One who never changes. If you gaze too long at your circumstances, you will become dizzy and confused. Look to [Him], refreshing yourself in [His] Presence, and your steps will be steady and sure.” (Jesus Calling) Not only stability is in that focus, but joy, peace, thankfulness, hope– all that overflows from being conscious of His constant presence and help. That’s where strength comes from. That’s how we persevere through another ordinary day.
“The dawning of each new day is a gift from Me, not to be taken for granted. The earth is vibrantly alive with My blessings, giving vivid testimony to My Presence. If you slow down your pace of life, you can find Me anywhere.” (Jesus Calling, Sarah Young)
“I am thankful for right now. God, I AM is present in this moment, and in His presence is fullness of joy.” (Ann VosKamp)