Drudgery Part One: The Common Task

Drudgery Part One: The Common Task

This morning’s reading in “My Utmost for His Highest” struck a nerve with me:

“We are not meant to be illuminated versions, but the common stuff of ordinary life exhibiting the marvel of the grace of God. Drudgery is the touchstone of character. . . . There are times when there is no illumination and no thrill, but just the daily round, the common task. . . . Learn to live in the domain of drudgery by the power of God. . . The tiniest detail in which I obey has all the omnipotent power of the grace of God behind it. If I do my duty, not for duty’s sake, but because I believe God is engineering my circumstances, then at the very point of my obedience the whole superb grace of God is mine through the Atonement.”

Oswald Chambers imparted his wisdom 100 years ago; but really, it’s God’s wisdom, and it’s timeless. Oswald’s wife faithfully transcribed notes during his lectures at the Bible Training College in Clapham, England (1911-1915) and the YMCA in Zeitoun, Egypt (1915-1917). After his untimely death, she compiled them into a devotional book that never ceases to convict with its fresh insights.

In a word, “drudgery” describes my work life since I returned to the States, post-exciting-missionary-career. As a young adult, the myriad personality tests I took proved what was already quite evident: I shirk less-inspired daily tasks for those of starring individualist. In Eastern Europe, my life was anything but routine. Political upheaval, abundant harvest fields, wars, hysterical cultural blunders, anarchy – this was the stuff of daily life. But cooking . . . not so much.

How can life in the States not be tame by comparison? My choice (and I believe the right choice for me) to reserve the best of my energy for my marriage and writing pursuits meant opting for mundane secretarial jobs.

For instance, my one project on my work calendar for the entire summer is revamping the filing system. Not exactly something that stimulates my mind or engages my passion. Boredom, while not the most shocking component of secretarial work, is magnified in the summer, when small college campuses resemble deserted Wild West towns. I can handle dullness better when students are present to energize me and remind me of the real reason I’m here. Lately, I’ve moped about like a child on a rainy day. “There’s nothing to do!”

And then this morning’s reading hit me squarely between the eyes. Today, as I file, I’m mulling over these questions:

  • Am I exhibiting the marvel of the grace of God?
  • If drudgery is the touchstone of character, what does my attitude say about mine?
  • Does my life demonstrate that I experience the joy of the Lord, which I know to be larger than my situation?

I do believe God engineered my circumstances to lead me to this particular job, and I’ll write more about that next time.

This post is Part One in a three-part series.

3 thoughts on “Drudgery Part One: The Common Task

  1. Loren

    Taryn, I just got convicted about this very same thing, but from Dietrich Bonhoeffer!
    I guess God’s really trying to get my attention on this. Ugh. Too bad I’ve not yet had the extravagance of a time of non-secretarial in the last 10 years.

  2. Amy V

    I read that the other morning too!  And was totally convicted about it because I’m becoming annoyed at the drudgery of lifeguarding and shadowing, wishing from something new and exciting or at least the excitement of campus…  I feel God is engineering these circumstances, I’m just not sure for what yet!


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