By Matthew B. Redmond
We often let the big ideas, the majestic vistas of salvation, the grand visions of God’s work in the world, and the great opportunities for making an impact in the name of Jesus distract us from taking with gospel seriousness the unglamorous ordinary.—Eugene Peterson, Practice Resurrection: A Conversation on Growing Up in Christ
—One of 10,000 voices on Twitter
My life is so damn mundane.
A young mother spends yet another morning scraping last night’s mac-and-cheese off
the linoleum. A barista rises at 4 a.m. and slogs into work so everyone else can get coffee on
their way. Behind a uniform desk, a well-starched banker sits and analyzes numbers.
Underneath a luxury SUV, a mechanic reaches for greasy tools while Springsteen plays in
the background. A room full of third-graders challenges the wit, patience, and energy of a
young teacher. A father has a lightsaber battle with his son. Comfortably dressed, a
librarian rises and points to the section where books on how to pass the GED are correctly
shelved. Outside of an empty house, a real-estate agent is waiting for an eager family. A
nurse delivers medicine to sometimes-thankful patients. A graphic designer stares at a
screen, dreaming for the sake of others. A mother gets up to change another diaper.
And I wonder:
Is there a God of the mundane?
As I look around the landscape of evangelicalism (the world I find myself in) the
mundane escapes notice. The ordinary is given lip-service but overlooked like the garnish
on a steak dinner. What the evangelical church really wants is something as large as God
Himself—captivating personalities up front, stage-worthy performances every Sunday,
humble miracle-workers in the pews, and an endless windfall for the balance sheets.
The call is to do something big. I’ve sat on the edge of my front-row seat and heard the
call thundered from pulpits. And I’ve been the one thundering: “Change the world,” I can hear myself crying out. “Change your world. Change the world of someone. Anyone. Sell everything. Sell anything. Give it away. Do something crazy. Be radical. Make people stand up and notice. Take a risk. Jesus moved from heaven to earth and gave up his life and yet you—you just go about your daily life.”
All too easily I can hear myself burdening the room with words, phrases, and ideas I’ve
heard elsewhere: “Your days should be blood-earnestly marked by an urgent, nerve-twisting love for
people you have never known,” I might say. “And if you truly loved them you would join the
missions team’s trip at the expense of your vacation to know them. If you loved God, you
would do it. And if you really believed-believed, you would go and stay. You should want to
go. It should be hard to stay where you are in the comfort of where you are.”
My own voice, like a lance, slashes through the darkness in every soul before me:
“You worship,” I berate them. “And then what do you do? You rest. You huddle in your
house with your spouse and kids. You eat. You drink. You make love. Go to your kid’s
games. Go out with friends. You have clean sheets, clean stainless-steel refrigerators and
clean water. You change nothing while millions die in poverty. Each week is a brick used to
build the house of a wasted, ordinary existence.”
I’ve heard all of it flail in my own head and lash against my ribs, leaving sourness in my
stomach no medicine can aid. Worse yet, similar words—if not these very ones—I turned
into whips with which to waken the consciences of those sitting before me. It never felt
right, but it preached well.
No lie. I used to preach and teach like this. And if I didn’t use the exact words and draw
the precise conclusions, I let the listener fill them in like some twisted religious Mad Lib.
But then I began to ask questions. The inconvenient ones.
Really? Is this the normal Christian life? Is God sitting around waiting for each and
every believer to do something monumental? Is this the warp and woof of the New
Testament? Are the lifestyles of the apostles the standard for the persons in the pew? Are
the first-century believers the standard?
Is this our God?
In the economy of God, do only the times when we are doing something life-changing
have any spiritual cachet with Him?
Does He look over the mundane work of the housewife, only to see the missions trip she
may go on?
So I wondered. I wondered about the great majority I have known and know, the great
majority living fairly ordinary lives.
Is there a God, for instance, for those who are not changing anything but diapers? Is
there a God for those who simply love their spouse and pour out rarely appreciated
affection on their children day after day? Is there a God for the mom who spends what feels
like God-forsaken days changing diapers and slicing up hot dogs? Is there a God for the man
who hammers out a day’s work in obscurity for the love of his wife and kids? Is there a God
for just and kind employers? Generous homemakers? Day-laborers who would look at a
missions trip to Romania like it was an unimaginable vacation?
Is there a God for the middle-class mom staving off cancer, struggling to raise teenagers,
and simply hoping both Mom and Dad keep their job? Is there a God for the broken home
with a full bank account but an empty bed? Is there a God for grown children tending to the
health of their aged parents?
Is there a God who delights in the ordinary existence of the unknown faithful doing
unknown work? Is there a God of grace for those who live out their faith everywhere but do
not want to move anywhere?
Is there a God for those who have bigger homes than me? More money than me? Nicer
cars than me? Better health than me?
Is there a God for the mundane parts of life, the small moments? Is there a God of kind
smiles, good tips, and good mornings? Is there a God of goodbye hugs and parting kisses?
What about firm, truthful handshakes and grasps of frail fingers in sanitized hospital
Does God care about the forgotten, mundane moments between the sensational, those
moments never remembered? Or are those just spiritually vacuous moments, ones for
which there is no God?
Is there a God of the mundane?
Does this God I worship care about mundane people and moments?
I’m not crazy. I know there are others asking the same question. But it felt like the
lonely question we ask into the night sky where no one will answer. And when we can
finally ask it, the comfort is not in the answer so much as wishing we could hear others
asking the same question. If misery loves company, a company of wondering would have
But I kept looking into that night sky. It began looking less empty with all its stars and
planets and blank blackness. And the question, hanging there, caught in the beauty of the
firmament, yearned for an answer echoing throughout the constellatory.
Perhaps I should give full disclosure. None of these thoughts are of the disinterested
sort. I need to answer the question for myself. I’ve already answered the question before it:
can I while away my days in obscurity? And so, answering in the affirmative and consigning
myself to a mundane existence, I now ask: is there a God of grace for me and my work—the
days that turn into weeks, into months and years, never distinguished but in need of a
Should I want something bigger? Will God be for me then?
Is God for my wife, whose days are full of conversations with children, repeated trips to
the store, dirty diapers, floors that have to be swept and clothes to be washed constantly?
Is there a God for her when one of our three children is sick, confused, and full of tears
pouring out of wide-eyed sockets and mixing with her own? Is there a God for her as she
slowly moves away from youth and into a frame she can hardly believe is her own?
Should she want more? Will He only be her God if she does something “big”?
As I write this, I’m a pastor. And the question looms large. It hangs in the air where I
study, and it hangs over the pulpit. The question stretches out into the pew where it steals
away into suburban homes and places of work and various schools. It breaks into
bedrooms and boardrooms.
Is there a God for the mundane parts of our lives? For our mundane lives? Is there a God
who makes sense of the life lived between the seismic and the extraordinary? Between the
missions trips? In between the joy and the pain? Is there a God for the meantime in a
culture drunk on the weekend’s promises?
I think there is.
[The preceding was taken from chapter 1 of Matthew B. Redmond’s book “The God of the Mundane: Reflections on Ordinary Life for Ordinary People” (Cruciform Press, 2021)]
Matt Redmond was born in Birmingham, AL. He attended Southeastern Bible College and Covenant Theological Seminary, and has served in pastoral ministry in four different congregations. Matt currently works in the banking industry. Matt and his wife, Bethany, have three children: Emma, Knox, and Dylan. Matt’s writing has been published by The Gospel Coalition and other publications. He also writes a blog: Echoes and Stars. Matt began writing The God of the Mundane because he realized that contemporary portrayals of the God of the Bible left little room for a God who was concerned about ordinary things. Building on his conviction that the biblical God was an everyday God, Matt’s reflections on this topic coalesced into a nascent collection of essays. You can follow his Twitter @mattredmond