I once had an English teacher begin the semester by proclaiming he never wanted to see the word, stuff, used in our writing. For him, the word, stuff, was too general and using it screamed of laziness. He wanted us to take the time and effort to think through exactly what we were writing about in very deliberate and specific language. Stuff is boring. It’s what accountants and dentists deal with.
But yet, isn’t that really what life is made up of? It’s those little details that build our days of which no one really pays attention to. The packing of lunches, mowing the grass, and kissing our families good-by before they head off for the day. Like quiet bricks in a building that no one pays attention to, they are so necessary for the completion of the project. All the attention is given to the corner stone but yet the building is made up of those boring pieces of stone which together keep the rain out and heat in. Isn’t that life?
Many times when we talk about stepping out in faith, we think of missionaries or a Green Beret kind of Christian who takes radical risks for the kingdom. Yes, there is a huge amount of faith involved in leaving a job for the mission field or giving up a lucrative career to become a servant at a local church. But sometimes, the biggest act of faith is putting one foot in front of the other when no one knows what’s going on and you just can’t seem to see any fruit. Even the saints in scripture experienced days, months, and years of waiting with nothing really exciting going on in their immediate context. They were just doing the stuff of life. We love and are inspired by accounts such as David and Goliath, Peter’s miraculous escape from jail, or Paul’s vision of the man from Macedonia. But we forget all those years David ran from King Saul in the wilderness, or when Peter got back up after stumbling in his faith, or as Paul waited in Tarsus or a Roman jail.
No, we like the successful adventure more. But yet, it’s those days of faithfully serving and doing the right thing even when no one is looking that builds faith, character, and deep roots that support us in the times of life changing decisions. While David was a teenage boy, he was just faithfully doing the routine, stuff of life, in tending the flocks and protecting them from lions and bears. It was that deep rooted faithfulness that bloomed before Goliath and enabled him to lead the nation of Israel closer to God years later.
Yes, the boring stuff does count and deserves our attention. For me, I’ve had to wrestle with this before because I’m an adventurous ADHD kind of guy. But I also know the normal and routine is what makes up day to day life. A while back I had a number of projects randomly sitting on my desk enticing me in their direction about as much as going to the dentist. But I knew they needed to be done. So I compiled them all together and ordered them into a file, simply called – Stuff!
It is clear that I will never be as organized as my accountant friend or our church administrative director, but I know that the effort in the little things will build a life of power in the days to come. It all matters and I’m reminded of Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians 2000 years ago that you should, “always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” So whatever routine is robbing you today, be strong my friend and keep going. In the day of decision it will all be worth it.